Repeal of Maximum Family Grant Rule and Its Effect on Child Support

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsOne of the most inhumane laws that loomed over the State of California was the Maximum Family Grant rule (MFG). According to this law, if anyone in the family is under the scheme of cash aid for 10 months in a row, a child born into the same family will be excluded from the Assistance Unit (A.U) bracket and is not eligible for child support. The MFG rule was added to CalWORKs program in August 1997 and is applicable for those children born after the same date.

The MFG law- a racist, sexist and discriminatory law 

From the time the MFG law was enforced, it discriminated against poor young woman against demanding basic aid for child support. This rule penalized mother’s enrolled in the state offered cash welfare program if they were to give birth. Monetary assistance included only those children born before the time the law came into practice or if the children were born prior to the mother receiving cash aid from the state. MFG was adopted as a measure of reformation and is largely viewed as enforcement of restricting the size of the family- mostly a curb on colored women.

Repeal of Maximum Family Grant rule and its effect on child support

The latest state budget included the repealing of the MFG rule with full support from Governor Jerry Brown. The motion to repeal the law was passed few months earlier. The dissolution of this law comes as a relief for over 90,000 families who were dealt with an iron hand by this biased law. The excluded families will now benefit from additional $138 for each child that was previously left out.

The repeal will increase the state’s budget by $220 million, annually. With the repeal, California joins 22 other states including Minnesota, Maryland, and Wyoming. Currently, there are only a dozen other states that refrain from supporting the family when an extra child is born if the family is enrolled in a cash aim program. The remaining two states follow an inflexible system wherein a certain amount is paid regardless of the number of children.

The enforcement of the MFG law was directed towards children born out of wedlock. The children also include those conceived from incest, rape and birth control fails forcing the woman to share unconformable personal details with the case worker.  Since there was no evidence to prove that MFG was successful in controlling the growth of population, its repeal comes as a restoration of faith in humanity.

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

When Parents Of Special Needs Children Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce MediatorsWith millions of American couples filing for a legal separation or divorce every year, the number of children losing their happy families has been on a constant rise in the recent times. It is a no-brainer, that it is the children who are most intensely affected by divorce. And if the children involved have special needs, the trauma and stress of a divorce can reach unprecedented levels. In such cases, the court of law has to make extremely complex decisions of child custody and support to ensure the best interests of the children with special needs.

The best interest of children with special needs  

More often than not, the expression ‘best interests of a child’ comprises of several factors which the judge needs to take into account while making custody and visitation related settlements for divorce cases.  Your divorce attorney needs to get well acquainted with his or her characteristic traits such as age, adaptability to change, emotional maturity and ability to deal with stress that will arise as a result of a change in the family structure. Furthermore, it is the parents’ duty to acknowledge that their situation demands for adjustments beyond their legal responsibilities, and that they need to ensure that their child receives the ideal environment for maturity and growth. 

Visitation arrangements 

In some cases, the parents may have disagreements regarding the unique needs of their child with special needs or physical disability. It is utmost essential to understand and acknowledge the fact that the typical visitation arrangements that are usually apt for children with no special needs or disabilities may not work for your special needs child. Under normal circumstances, the judge may order for alternating weekend or midweek visits, inclusive of summer or festival visits. However, for children with special needs, it is far more difficult to adjust to the sudden transition from a happy family to a single parent home. It is therefore suggested to replace shorter frequent visits with longer and more stable visitation with each parent, in order to avoid disturbing the child’s routine. To cite an example, children with autism will be highly affected by a disruption in their daily routine, which will in turn affect their behavior and performance at school.

It is utmost essential for the separating parents to understand that their special needs child also has the right to lead a normal life, and should not be made to suffer the repercussions of their failed marriage.

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

Things to Know About Divorcing In Your Senior Years

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsIn recent years, the rate of divorces of people aged above 50 has doubled. Because of the age of people involved in a divorce, the separation is called ‘gray divorce’. Senior people heading for a divorce no longer raise eyebrows.

Here is some valuable information about late life or gray divorces:


Alimony or spousal support is always guaranteed when a long term marriage breaks up. Unlike younger divorcing couples, the lower earning spouse in a gray divorce will generally be awarded alimony for life. In gray divorces, the parties might both be retired and have an equal income from retirement accounts and investments.

Retirement earnings

Retirement money is going to get divided between the two separating spouses. No matter what the type of divorce is (legal separation, uncontested, no fault, contested), the retirement assets and funds will be divided evenly.

Some spouses may get offered more than their share of the pension from their separating spouse. In such an instance the question of paying alimony disappears. But accepting more pension and no alimony is not a good idea in some instances. Retirement earnings from your spouse can potentially become a taxable income.

Child custody, support and visitation

In a gray divorce, the children are, in most cases, mature adults. As a result, child custody, child support and visitation rights do not need to be considered. But the divorced parents may continue providing financial support to their adult children. Although the financial support is not a part of the divorce agreement.

Division of property

Women generally do not want to give up their marital home. But it is advisable that they do so because financially it makes more sense that way. If you keep the house, your husband will get something that will allow him to pay you less alimony or a smaller share of the pension. Either way you will be at a loss. Keeping a house will mean paying property taxes, maintenance expenditures and other costs that will eat into your financial resources.

Prenuptial agreement

Family law experts believe that it is best to sign a prenuptial agreement. Without one, a gray divorce can cause the depletion of all your retirement savings.

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

The Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorces

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county divorce mediation attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsA divorce becomes ‘uncontested’ or a decision is reached by ‘default’, when either of the parties does not respond to a divorce or separation petition or they reach an agreement. In a ‘true default’ process, either of the party can give up their right to have a say in the outcome of the divorce or separation proceedings. A ‘true default’ is not a very good idea and is advised against.

Reaching an agreement

If you choose to reach an agreement, you will have to decide on – dividing your property and debts, terms of spousal or partner support, child support or custody and visitation rights in case you have children together. Before you sign an agreement, make sure that you have understood all the aspects in the agreement.

Even if you reach an agreement on all the above issues, make sure you are completely aware of the legal requirements of property division, child support, child custody and visitation rights, and spousal or partner support. Take legal advice to follow the legal requirements for each of the above mentioned procedures.

Responding and agreeing

A divorce becomes ‘uncontested’ when the parties respond to the petition and reach an agreement on their own. Both parties need to prepare a formal agreement. It is called the ‘stipulated judgment’. The stipulated judgment needs to be notarized. After you prepare a formal agreement, you need to fill out the divorce filing forms and all other related forms formally asking the court to give a judgment on the divorce or legal separation.

Not responding

If you decide not to respond to a divorce petition, you should very carefully go through the papers filed by your spouse or partner. You need to be very much aware of the terms and conditions of the divorce you are accepting. The court is going to award a judgment in favor of the petitioner. It is called a divorce by ‘default’.

If you do not want to respond, you should at least make sure that you are a part in the decision making process. You should get a written notarized agreement with your spouse or partner. Because a decision is being made about your future, you should be aware of what you are getting into.

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

What Are The Common Reasons For Divorce In The U.S.?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce mediators Orange County; California Divorce Mediators50% of all marriages ending in divorce in the United States is, unfortunately, a fact. Differences in income levels, personalities, education and physical appearances are just some of the many reasons why so many couples are getting divorced in the U.S. and experts and therapists say that these reasons are very trivial especially after having spent so many years of their lives together.

Divorce statistics in the United States 

No doubt the rate of divorce has been significantly increasing since the 1990’s especially after divorces could be settled out of court and child support and alimony was introduced by states in the U.S. Couples didn’t feel the need to stay married to each other with all the benefits being offered to them by the state governments.

Now, the average length of a happy marriage in the U.S. is claimed to be only a shocking 11 years. According to a recent and interesting study conducted by the American Law and Economics Review Board, a little more than two-thirds of divorces in the U.S. are filed by women. Even though the rate differs slightly from state to state, by the end of the 20th century, 70% of women in most states were the ones filing for a divorce.

Common reasons for divorce in the United States 

Marriage therapists and counselors in the U.S. say that shockingly enough the main reasons why so many couples are getting divorced so fast is due to the simplest and most futile reasons. The most common ones are –

  1. Society – the number 1 reason for divorce in the United States is either one party getting married for the wrong reasons such as money or because they thought they had to get married before reaching a certain age.
  1. Lack of individuality – ‘couple dumb’ is a syndrome where either the man or the woman are incapable of doing anything interesting without the other person around. Having their own interests and the freedom to express themselves and involve themselves in their own hobbies, likes, interests, etc. is vital in order to maintain a sense of individuality and enjoy their own personalities.
  1. Financial dependency or difference in incomes – when one partner becomes financially dependent on the other is when problems start to arise as the other partner automatically begins to call all the shots when it comes to how and when to spend money. Major differences in incomes earned by husband and wife can also be grounds for calling it quits as whoever is earning more tends to stand on a pedestal in the relationship.

Other common reasons for divorce in the U.S. include either partner “changing” after marriage, unmet expectations, loss of intimacy, and forgetting your role in the relationship.

If parties have grown too far apart for whatever reason that remedying the problems of the marriage or reconciling, then divorce may unfortunately be the final outcome of the marriage.  If that is the situation, then divorce mediation is generally the better way to end your marriage without making the relationship even worse, especially when children are involved.

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

What Happens When You Don’t Want To Talk In Divorce Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce Mediation“I don’t want to talk to my ex in mediation.”  This is a common issue that Orange County divorce mediators have to deal with regularly. Some spouses that come to Orange County divorce mediation may come for the mediation process because they want to avoid the delay of litigation, even though they have a distinct hatred of their spouse in their hearts. Such spouses would often want to stay away from the other spouse. But how would mediation work when two spouses don’t even want to be in the same room?

Mediators Waving their Magic Wands

An Orange County divorce mediator is part of a mediation process for a reason. That reason is their supreme skills to make two warring parties communicate and settle down. There is an important saying in mediation that “A mediator urges warring parties to settle down in their differences rather than settle down their differences.” This is exactly what they are tasked with, even in such a situation.

They will need to take some of the sting, hatred and drama out of the divorce. Making sure that first up, the spouses are focused on the proceedings at hand and secondly, are aware of the life altering effect these decisions will have.

Yes, a spouse may not want to talk to the other spouse, it is perfectly natural. Yet, an Orange County mediator will need to outline to them just how important communication and effective resolution of such an issue is for them. The fact that they want to stay away from the other spouse and not talk to them will depend on how they work with the mediator and the spouse to find a resolution. The quicker they can resolve the issue, the faster the couple can make their divorce official and go their separate ways.

Talk to Them Today for You May need them Tomorrow

The thing about life is that two people can never truly stay apart, especially if they have shared a marital relation with one another. Your children for example, are a source of joy for both parties and both the parents would want the best for their children. Yet, co parenting, working on parenting plans, making sure child visitations are properly met and handing and taking over of child custody are all issues which warrant that the two parents have healthy relations.

Even if you don’t plan on talking to your ex spouse, you will at some point be needed to do just that and if you are unable to keep a relation of respect between you two, the conversation could be troublesome for you.

Hence, Orange County divorce mediators encourage spouses that hate each other to still come to the communication table, discuss their differences out, and make sure they reach a peaceful resolution for the sake of their future life.

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

Custody of Pets: What Happens During Divorce Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsAnyone with pets knows that they are as well loved as a family member. So divorce can be a difficult time for families with pets, not the least of which is because your precious four legged friends are treated as another ‘asset’. The system works rather differently for custody of pets, compared to when it is considering the custody of children. If you had written this into your prenuptial agreement, then things will be cut and dry. If not, be prepared for hard negotiations during mediation.

Pets before marriage

If a pet was one of the partners’, before marriage, then during divorce proceedings it is almost always that spouse who gets sole custody of the pet. However, if you bought the pet together during your marriage, it becomes like any other marital asset.

The importance of divorce mediation

When it comes to things like marital assets, debt, and other financial aspects of the divorce, you can rely on outside help to make smart choices. But when it comes to your pets, there’s no better person to make that decision than you and your soon to be ex. If the pet is important to both of you, you may need to work out a custody sharing arrangement where the pet splits time between two homes – yours and your ex’s.

Think of where the pet would be most comfortable and happy

Use the divorce mediation process to have frank and open discussions and weigh the pros and cons of the pet staying with each of you. Keep in mind the interests of your pet, and not just your desire to be with your beloved furry friend. For instance, if your spouse has a larger home in the suburbs or a good park nearby for your pet to run around and play in, while you are in a studio in the city, it may be better to take your pet on only weekends when you can drive him somewhere to enjoy the outdoors. Also factor in which of you was the primary caregiver when you were together. Will your spouse be able to manage all the jobs like cooking up meals, taking the dog or cat out for a walk or playtime?

Making your case for custody

To build a case for yourself, should the custody issue be challenged, prepare documentary proof and perhaps even a testimony from the veterinarian, neighbours and others who can confirm that you had primary responsibility for the pet during the marriage.

When kids are involved

For families that have pets, it is usually best to have the pets go wherever the kids are going to be, or to work out a similar arrangement so that the kids can hold on to that emotional constant during this difficult time.

The costs of pet custody

Remember there is no formal pet support payment though this can be worked out as part of alimony arrangements or figured out as part of the settlement during divorce mediation. Do factor in the costs if you do get awarded primary custody, because bringing up pets can be expensive.

How pets get used as leverage

Beware of letting your emotions get the better of you. If you and your spouse are parting on less than amicable terms, he or she might use your emotional attachment to the pet to fight you on custody. And it may not even matter that he or she doesn’t love the pet as much, or really care where it goes. This may be done with the sole purpose of having you give up on some financial aspects of the divorce settlement that you are also battling it out on.

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

Is Private Vs. Mandated Divorce Mediation Different?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsThe decision to end their relations and get a divorce is not an easy one for spouses. There are several factors that come into play when making the decision. And once the decision is made, there are plenty of options available to the spouses instead of just hiring a lawyer each and getting ready for battle.  As a couple goes through divorce, they will learn these stages, which will help them in the next part of their lives.

Mandated Divorce Mediation

When a couple decides that the best way to end their relation is going through a divorce, the courts will still, irrespective of the predicament and mutual feelings, require the spouses to attend mediation. This type of mediation is known as mandated mediation. The mandate to this mediation is given to them by the courts.

This type of mediation is unlike a private Orange County divorce mediation which will be discussed later in this blog. In this mediation, first up, there is a review of the divorce file by the mediator. The mediator in this case, is appointed by the court. Once they have gone through the file, the mediator will then have a short question and answer session with the spouses to identify the primary issues. Once that is done and the mediator is aware of the situation, they will give time to the spouses to come to a mutual agreement between themselves before a formal trial.

The agreement in a mandated divorce need not be on all the core issues and be a comprehensive document. Instead, even agreement on one of the core issues such as child custody, property, etc, is welcomed. This kind of mediation is often left wanting because of its constraints of time.

Private Divorce Mediation

Private divorce mediation on the other hand, is considerably different to mandated divorce. First up, this kind of divorce mediation is not enforced on the spouses by the courts. Instead, this kind of mediation is chosen by the spouses themselves to solve their issues related to divorce. Secondly, unlike a mandated divorce, the mediator will often take a back seat in such proceedings. Instead, they like to let the spouses take center stage.

In a private mediation, the spouses have the utmost authority whether it’s related to the timing of the divorce, the length of the proceedings, the resolution of issues, etc. They get to dictate the speed with which the mediation will go and in most cases, also the schedule of mediation. On top of that, most importantly, a private divorce mediation is not a step or a stage in a divorce proceeding. It is a divorce process, stand alone on its own.

Hence, the spouses will have to come up with a comprehensive resolution in this case which is mutually successful for the mediation to end.

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

The Divorce Rate for Seniors is Rising

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsLate-life divorce, also called “silver” or “gray” divorce, is becoming more acceptable and common. However, divorce during senior years carries its own unique concerns and financial challenges.

Researchers at the Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, found that although overall divorce rates in the United States are falling, people aged 50 and over are now twice as likely to undergo divorce in comparison to 1990. The study also indicated that one out of four divorces in 2010 occurred in that age group.

Divorce is a difficult process at any age. Although seniors who choose to divorce may not face the same stressful child custody and support issues that younger couples may have, they will likely have to deal with major financial considerations.

During divorce proceedings, senior couples need to consider how to split retirement assets that are present in the marriage. Such assets continue to grow even after the divorce, and careful planning can help ensure that individuals receive their share of the payments. The rules governing the division of retirement accounts in California are complex and ever-changing.

With studies showing that remarriages have higher divorce rates, individuals would also benefit from getting a prenuptial agreement to protect assets. Without one, a second divorce can drain retirement savings that have already been divided once. A prenuptial agreement is a tool that enables an even post-marital distribution of assets to avoid conflict.

No matter the age of the divorcing spouses, they should try to keep conversations about finances as neutral and amicable as possible. There is no benefit in having a contentious divorce. Instead, mediation can offer the opportunity for both parties to reach a satisfying outcome on common ground.

For more information, see:


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

Divorcing Couples Face Rising Use of Smartphones & Social Media as Evidence

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsThe use of evidence from smartphones and other wireless gadgets during divorce proceedings has increased over the past three years, according to 97 percent of the lawyers surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Among the types of evidence gathered, 46 percent consisted of text messages, while 30 percent were emails and 12 percent were call logs and phone numbers. App data, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds and more were also used.

The survey cited popular social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as being the top three used for divorce evidence by 41 percent, 17 percent and 16 percent of the surveyed attorneys respectively.

Social media can have a significant impact on divorce cases by opening up divorcing partners to scrutiny in court. In litigated divorces, opposing attorneys may dig up incriminating information from social media pages for one spouse to use against the other as evidence to prove anything from concealed assets to the breach of a prenuptial agreement.

For example, a parent “tweeting” about a night out could be perceived as being irresponsible towards their child, or a spouse sharing Instagram photos of a vacation could raise questions about their income.

So the bottom line is that you should monitor your behavior on social media. Ask yourself, if I post this, will it come back to haunt me later? If you are going through a divorce, err on the side of caution and refrain from using social networks until after the divorce. Otherwise, your online activities could come back to be a problem for you.

When it comes to divorce, an advantage of divorce mediation is privacy. Neither party is compelled to look through each others social media activity to find something incriminating to use. The divorcing partners can instead focus on looking forward and coming to an agreement regarding their futures, rather than reliving the past.

For more information, see:


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