Is Mandated and Private Divorce Mediation Different?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce mediators Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsDivorce is not a decision couples take in the best of their times. Any decision of divorce involves loads of bitterness and hurt behind it. Divorce is one of the most important decisions in a person’s life and in addition to the importance of the decision, the way the couple separates is also an important consideration. Contrary to popular belief, the decision to separate leaves the couples with a host of options to choose their mode of a divorce other than simply retaining attorneys and fighting it out in court.  The parties can seek private divorce mediation, but the California family courts mandate child custody mediation prior to most custody court proceedings.

Mandated Child Custody Mediation

It is often misunderstood that when couples go through the family law courts, there is little or no chance of mediation. This, however, is far from the truth. In reality, when couples start to go through child custody court proceedings, irrespective of their legal positions, the first thing that courts require them to do is go through mandated custody mediation.

In mandated mediation, the couples are presented in front of a court assigned mediator who reviews the custody case, its facts, and questions the couple on their positions. The job of this mandated mediator is to allow the couples a chance to sort their custody issues.

Private Divorce Mediation

This form of mediation is the most-commonly used mediation. The key to this type of mediation is that it is flexible in terms of time, place, and the format of mediation. The lack of time bar on this type of mediation allows the couple to have a greater amount of time to effectively discuss their issues in depth and in detail to allow the issues to be ironed out.

The key to Orange County divorce mediation is the role of the mediator in this type of mediation. Unlike the role of the mediator in mandated mediation, an Orange County divorce mediator only facilitates the couples to try and sort their issues out and doesn’t really take part in questions and answers with the clients. One of the most important things that make this type of mediation more potent than mandated mediation is the legally binding authority it has. Divorce mediation agreements can be enforced through the use of courts.

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

How Sexual Orientation, Religion And Handicap Affect Child Custody

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange-County-child-custody-attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsIn a child custody case, people sometimes wonder if a parent’s sexual orientation, physical handicap, or religious beliefs have an impact or effect on child custody.

Sexual Orientation

It is fair to say that Orange County, California has been known as having residents often with conservative beliefs. It is widely known that the officials, elected representatives, and courts have traditionally leaned towards conservative views. Yet, does it play a role in determining child custody? Since 1998, the Courts in California have held that homosexuality of a parent cannot be a determining factor alone in a child custody case. The judges in the courts deem heterosexual or homosexual behaviors irrelevant to the child custody because child custody depends on the betterment of the child. Unless the sexual conduct poses any real threat to the child, it is regarded as the parent’s private matter.

Religious Practices

This is another factor that is more a myth than a factor. Orange County family law courts are not allowed to deny custody or visitation to any parent because of their religious beliefs. There is, however, one condition. If the religious beliefs pose a threat to the child, that may be a reason against granting child custody to that parent. Courts are also open to let parents talk to their children about their practices as long as the religious practice involves no kind of illegal activity. The courts follow these rules because the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment protects the religious beliefs of the individual.

Physical Handicap

Can physical disability of a parent be used as a means or argument to stop the child custody being awarded to someone? That’s definitely not the case.  Disability can be considered in combination with other reasons to decide child custody issues, but only basing child custody decisions on disability is forbidden. The thing that courts have to consider is whether the parent can care for the child or not. If the parent, despite his/her disability, can care for the child, there is no reason for the court to not grant him or her child custody.

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

How is Child Support Determined in California?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange county divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsChild support is ordered by the judge granting one partner the right to receive money from the other.  The partner who has more custodial time of the child(ren) usually seeks child support. However, child support laws differ from state to state so the divorcing parties need to ask their attorney about what the laws are in their state. If you live in California, then you need to have some understanding of the law.

Child Support Laws in California

Judges have to follow specific guidelines when deciding how much child support one party has to pay. They consider these factors when deciding on the amount payable:

  • Gross income of each parent
  • Number of kids
  • Percentage of time each parent spends with the kids
  • Where one party is paying mortgage interest and property taxes on a property
  • The medical insurance premiums paid each month and by whom
  • Whether one party is in a union and pays union dues and mandatory retirement each month

Courts use a computer program, such as Dissomaster or Xspouse, which are based on the California formula for child support to calculate monthly child support payments.

Determining Income

Each partner provides the court with their gross income, which the court uses to determine the gross annual income and divides it by 12 to get the monthly amount.  For your knowledge, gross income can consist of:

  • W-2 income (salary and bonuses/commissions)
  • Rental income
  • Interest
  • Pensions
  • Social Security benefits
  • Disability Insurance benefits
  • Workers Compensation benefits
  • Unemployment Insurance Benefits
  • Investment income
  • Trust income
  • Royalties
  • Dividends
  • Income from Owned Business(es)

What Actions does the Court Take if the Partner is Unemployed?

Some people may quit their job to show the court that they are unable to provide the ordered child support payments. If this scenario comes to the court’s attention, it will consider the amount the partner was earning prior to quitting their job and otherwise is able to earn and calculate child support using that. Before ordering that, the unemployed partner will have to provide the court with proof stating that there are available jobs that he/she is qualified to apply.

Determining Timeshare

The court looks at what the regular weekly custodial schedule is, along with the annual holiday and vacation schedule to determine the percentage of custodial timeshare for each parent.  The most accurate way to determine such percentages is to break down each party’s custodial time into hours and then divide by the number of hours in one year (8,760).

You should always consult with an experienced divorce mediator or attorney to fully understand what child support you can expect to pay or receive.

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