The Wealthy’s Best-Kept Secret: How Divorce Mediation Can Save Your Fortune

Posted by: Cherie Davis

Divorce proceedings can be tough and even more so for wealthy individuals who risk losing their fortune and assets. However, there is one solution that many wealthy couples have turned to – Divorce mediation. While mediation is often viewed as the choice for those with less money, it’s also a great option for high-net-worth individuals. In this blog post, we will explore six reasons why wealthy couples use divorce mediation to preserve their fortune and assets.

Confidentiality and Privacy

Divorce mediation is a private way of resolving issues, which offers an amicable resolution to cases without disclosing any of the information discussed in divorce mediation. Rather than discussing their private matters in front of a judge, the process is kept confidential. All parties involved can come to a resolution while keeping their personal information private.

Customized Solutions

Wealthy couples have much at stake in a divorce and can benefit from the flexibility of divorce mediation. This process allows wealthy individuals to develop solutions that make more sense to their unique situation. For example, they can negotiate property settlements, spousal and child support, and other aspects of the divorce tailored to their individual needs.

Control over the Process

The court system can proceed in a rather unpredictable way, with little to no control. However, the parties involved have complete control over the outcome in mediation. Rather than leaving the process completely up to a judge, they maintain control over decisions affecting their lives.

Preserving Business Interests

Wealthy individuals with businesses can benefit greatly from mediation when protecting and preserving business interests. Mediation provides a controlled environment to negotiate a division of business assets and liabilities.

Reducing Conflict

Conflict is inevitable in a divorce, but mediation can help to reduce it. Mediating a divorce can help parties resolve their issues amicably, resulting in a solution that makes sense. By seeking a peaceful resolution through mediation, parties can avoid wasting money and assets fighting the case in court.

Efficiency and Cost Effectiveness

Divorce litigation can be a long, drawn-out process, which can come at a high cost for all parties involved. Wealthy individuals can use mediation to take control of the costs of their divorce without incurring substantial legal fees. The average person certainly can’t afford litigation costs, but mediation offers a more manageable solution to their legal issues.

In conclusion, divorce mediation is a versatile solution for wealthy individuals looking to dissolve their marriage with minimal impact on their fortune and assets. This process can help to maintain privacy, provide customized solutions, and preserve business interests. Additionally, mediation can reduce conflict, and costs, while allowing parties involved to maintain control of the outcome. So, if you’re a wealthy individual going through a divorce, consider using mediation as an amicable resolution to your marital issues.

Contact Us for Divorce Mediation Assistance

If you have any questions about the divorce mediation process or want to schedule a consultation, please contact us to learn more. We help clients work together to maintain a respectful dialogue and reach agreements that result in sustainable outcomes that will benefit everyone involved in the process. We look forward to helping you.

Who Gets The Dog In A Divorce?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County Divorce Mediators; California Divorce MediatorsBy:  Gerald Maggio, Esq.

If you don’t have a pet, you might not understand how important and difficult this question can be but if you have ever felt the special bond between a person and a pet, you can imagine how custody issues of pets can be difficult in a divorce. When spouses with children divorce, the court determines whether the parents will have joint custody or if one parent will have sole custody. Courts also provide parenting time schedules for children so both parents have parenting time with the children.

The overriding factor in custody and parenting time decisions is the best interests of the child…not the best interests of the parents. Focusing on the best interests of the child makes custody decisions easier for parents and courts alike because there is enough research on what is best for children in many different situations. If the court were to treat pets like children, they would have to determine what is in the best interests of the pet and that is not something courts are likely to do because court resources are in high demand for more pressing matters. As far as the best interests of the pet, pets are generally fine as long as they have food, water, shelter, perhaps a walk, and someone to give them attention.

Just as not all parents are married, not all pet owners are married either. Roommates, partners, friends, and family might get a pet together and when they go their separate ways, the pet owners may not agree on who should have custody of the pet. For all these situations, courts do not have a process by law to award custody. Some individual courts have made rulings for custody of pets but generally speaking those decisions were left up to the court’s discretion and were not really based in state law.

Pets Are Property

Interestingly, pets are considered property by law so they are treated like property in a divorce. Property includes real property (a house) as well as items such as furniture, electronics, and jewelry. When dividing property, spouses generally each receive property of equal value. One spouse might get the big screen TV while the other spouse might get the china and glassware which has the same value as the TV. How do you put a dollar value on the family pet?

While courts will not typically decide issues regarding pets (there really aren’t any laws for courts to follow regarding pets in divorce) individuals can stipulate their own agreement in regard to family pets. Families with children sometimes decide that the pet should be where the children are. In those cases, the pet follows the same parenting time schedule that the children follow. In some cases, just like property, one spouse might negotiate a deal where he keeps the pet and he offers other types of property in exchange for the pet.

Are You A Dog Lover?

In a survey by the APPA National Pet Owners Survey 62% of households in the United States owned a pet (72.9 million homes). The health benefits of owning a pet are well-documented as pets provide security, companionship, a reason to exercise, and can even lower a person’s blood pressure simply by their presence. People form very special bonds with their pets and particularly in divorce cases where there are no children; the pet can be one of the most valued relationships the divorcing individuals have.

For further information or to schedule a consultation, please contact California Divorce Mediators at (949) 553-0911 or at

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

Is My Spouse Entitled to My Inheritance In Our Divorce?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County Divorce Mediators; California Divorce MediatorsBy Gerald Maggio, Esq.

In California, assets and debts that are acquired during the marriage are generally community property, meaning that each party is entitled to one-half of such assets (or responsible for one-half of such debts).  One MAJOR EXCEPTION to that principle of law is inheritance.  If a spouse inherits money or other assets from family or others, such assets are considered to be that spouse’s separate property, and would not be divided in a divorce.

However, it is highly important to know that you must have segregated such monies and/or assets in a separate account in your own name.  In other words, let’s say that you inherited $100,000 from your grandmother.  You received a cashier’s check for such monies in your name through her estate.  If you were to deposit that check into a bank account in your own name and it existed at the time of separation/divorce, it would be hard for any court to determine that it was anything but that spouse’s separate property.  On the other hand, if you were to have deposited that check into the joint checking account with your spouse and some or all of the funds were spent on various expenses and splurges, etc., you likely have a limited ability to claim any of those spent funds without proof and dependent on what you spent the money on.  You may have a claim for any remaining monies in the joint account assuming that there was not a valid transmutation into community property pursuant to Family Code section 852, which imposes certain requirements on marital transmutations, including that a transmutation “is not valid unless made in writing by an express declaration that is made, joined in, consented to, or accepted by the spouse whose interest in the property is adversely affected.” there is arguably a transmutation of those funds into community property by way of the deposit into the joint checking account.

In plain English, you will save a lot of headache, legal fees, and expert fees spent tracing the funds into and out of any joint account by simply keeping any inheritance segregated in your own account in your own name from the moment that you receive such inheritance.  If you do want to use such monies for joint purposes in the future, consider a transmutation agreement with your spouse.  For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact California Divorce Mediators at (949) 553-0911 or at

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

Think Twice Before Having A Child Witness Testify In Your Child Custody Case

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County Divorce Mediators; California Divorce MediatorsBy:  Gerald Maggio, Esq.

In some situations, taking the testimony of a minor child can be necessary, especially where physical or sexual abuse is involved.  Those court proceedings are generally done confidentially, either in a closed courtroom or in the judge’s chambers.

However, a parent in a child custody case should think long and think twice before seeking to have a child testify in their case.  For instance, in some cases, there are blended families where there are younger children of the parties’ marriage or relationship, and also older stepchildren or children of just one of the parents (hereinafter described as “the other children” in this article), all living under the same roof.  I have seen parents want to call one of “the other children” to testify against the other party because the children of the relationship of the parties are too young to really do so, to make allegations that the other parent has been abusive to them and to their younger half-siblings.  It becomes apparent soon enough that “the other children” have been coached to say things in a certain way in court to help the parent pushing them to testify in the first place.

It is troubling for any parent to ever put their children in such a difficult position to have to testify in court, if it is not really necessary.  It is awful that any parent would coach their children to potentially lie or misstate the truth, for the sake of the parent seeking the testimony (hereinafter referred to as “bad parent”).  The problem is further compounded when the other attorney representing the other parent starts questioning the child regarding his or her prior, canned responses prepared and coached by “bad parent.”  At that point, the child will start looking at “bad parent” across the courtroom seeking help in how to answer unscripted, tougher questions from the other attorney.  In the end, the child’s previous testimony can be found unbelievable, and potentially “bad parent’s” use of the child’s testimony backfires and hurts bad parent’s custody case, because the court has determined that “bad parent” is not a sympathetic and credible parent, but a manipulative one.

Not only can use of a child’s testimony for such purpose backfire, it can detrimentally affect the child psychologically and emotionally.  Child custody disputes are generally never easy to resolve, but using child witnesses for such purposes is not right and can hurt them and your custody case.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact California Divorce Mediators at (949)553-0911 or at

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

When Can I Modify My California Spousal Support Order?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce mediators; California divorce mediatorsBy Gerald Maggio, Esq.

There are 2 types of spousal support orders in California.  First, there are temporary spousal support orders made while a divorce or legal separation case is pending, which are generally made in the initial stage of such cases until a final resolution of the case is accomplished.  Second, spousal support orders made at trial of trial or by a stipulated Judgment reached between the parties are generally termed “long-term” spousal support orders intended to kick in once the divorce or legal separation is finalized.

In California cases, long-term spousal support orders can be amended or terminated under certain circumstances. Supporting partners have a number of different options available to them, if they wish to pursue a modification or termination of the support they provide.

In most cases, long-term spousal support can be terminated or modified at any time during the support period.  The only instance when this is not true is when there is a written agreement by the parties expressly stating that spousal support is non-modifiable. In the absence of such an agreement, the court generally retains continuing spousal support jurisdiction and can decide to terminate or reduce spousal support in later court proceedings.  This is especially true for marriages that were more than 10 years in duration.

If the court assumes continuing spousal support jurisdiction, then the court may grant a request to modify spousal support if the supporting party can demonstrate a material change of circumstance since the most recent court order outlining the spousal support. When reviewing a modification or termination request, the court will consider the following factors:

  • Reducing Support if Spouse is Self Supporting– The California Family Code emphasizes that even in long-term marriages, defined as those which last 10 years or more, the supported spouse has a duty to become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time, which is considered to be one-half the length of the marriage.  Generally, if the duration of the marriage is less than ten years, a supported spouse is expected to become self-supporting in half the length of the marriage. Modification or termination of the support can be ended before this time. If the spouse has not made any reasonable efforts to become self-supporting, you may ask      the court to terminate the spousal support.  If, on the other hand, your former spouse has actually increased his or her earnings, you will be able to present evidence of this in court and argue that he or she now has a reduced need for support.
  • Reducing Spousal Support Based on Obligations– In some cases, the supported party’s separate estate, including any and all assets allocated to him or her in the community property division, and its reasonable income potential, may be enough for you to seek a reduction or termination of previously awarded spousal support.
  • Other Factors that affect Modification of Spousal Support include:
  •    Remarriage– A spousal support order automatically terminates when the supported party gets remarried.
  •    Cohabitation– Cohabitation may also be a basis for seeking a modification or termination of a spousal support order. If your former spouse is cohabitating with a    member of the opposite sex in a romantic relationship, you can request that the court order a termination of support or a downward modification of support.
  •    Retirement– The retirement of the supporting party may be sufficient basis to receive a termination of support; however, it will be important to prove that the supporting spouse has a right to retire and is not choosing early retirement.  In California, the recognized retirement age is 65, meaning that your ex-spouse cannot force you to work beyond that age, and if your retirement income is less than your pre-retirement income, you are likely entitled to a modification of the spousal support order at a minimum.

Whether you can terminate or reduce your existing spousal support obligation depends upon the unique facts and circumstances of your case. If you are considering modifying or terminating your spousal support order, you should contact a family law attorney who will review your case and advise you on how best to proceed.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact California Divorce Mediators at (949) 553-0911 or at

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

What Are My Options Concerning My House In A Divorce?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediator;s California divorce mediatorsBy: Gerald Maggio, Esq.

Following the real estate collapse in the past 5 years, more people owe more on their homes than the home is worth than prior to the real estate bust.  Many have no equity in the home and some are even under water because they owe more than the value of the house.  Historically, when people divorced, it was common for people to fight over who would get to keep the house because there was equity in the house. The house was not only desirable for emotional reasons, it was also often the most valuable asset in the  marriage and was expected to increase in value.

In today’s market though, it is common for parties to fight over not taking the house.  No one wants to be saddled with a mortgage that they cannot afford for a house which has no equity, so both spouses are more likely to try to get out of the house. This has been a relatively new dilemma for divorcing parties, for attorneys and for courts.  Here are your 3 options for dealing with this increasingly common problem.

1. Sell the House.

If you can sell your house, you may be able to pay off the mortgage and start fresh. The risk in keeping a house which has no equity is the very real risk of foreclosure.  A homeowner would have to keep the home and continue to make mortgage payments until the real estate market recovers to the point that the home has more value. A homeowner may have to work with the mortgage company on a short sale in order to avoid liability for any remaining balance owing on the mortgage. Both spouses will likely have to remain on the mortgage until the house is sold but once the house is sold, both will be released from the debt.

2. Rent the House.

If parties do not want to sell the house while it has no equity, the parties can choose to rent the house until the market recovers or until there is some equity in the house. One party can assume the responsibility of caring for the home or the parties can share it. If the parties decide to rent the property, they will also have to decide if one of them will take the tax deduction and claim the rental income or if they will share the income and/or the tax deduction. Renting the home allows both parties the option to live somewhere new while still getting some income from the home until the right time to sell arises, or at least buy some time for the real estate market to fully recover. Both parties will likely have to remain on the mortgage until such time as the home is sold.

3. Stay in the House.

One party may decide to take the risk and assume possession and the sole interest in the home.  The risk is that the home may not ever be worth as much as the amount owed on it, but the potential benefit is that over time, the house will have value again and in the meantime, they will receive the tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes.  If one party is willing to assume that risk, the party should not owe anything of value in return for getting the house. For example, if the house had equity of $200,000, and the wife decided to keep the house, then she would have to compensate the husband for his $100,000 marital share of the equity in the house. When the house has no equity, there is no reason to compensate the other spouse.  The house may have value someday, but it might not. The person willing to assume the risk will solely assume the loss or the profit from that decision.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call California Divorce Mediators at (949) 553-0911 or visit

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

A Tough Economy Makes Divorce Even Tougher

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

21743109_mlBy:  Gerald Maggio, Esq.

In today’s weak economy, divorcing couples and their attorneys are finding that economic issues are more contentious than ever.  In a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 85% of respondents reported complications in divorce proceedings due to housing debt in the past three years.

Now more than ever, money is the big issue in divorce litigation.  The foreclosure crisis and high unemployment rate mean that every dollar counts for all families, especially those that are splitting up.

Another complication is the need to relocate due to economic circumstances, which can greatly complicate child custody matters.  The AAML survey found that 53% of respondents reported an increase in relocation requests in child custody cases.  Traditionally, such requests are made when one divorcing spouse is seeking employment elsewhere, or to relocate closer to another partner.  However, moving away is not a simple option for a custodial parent under current California law, and will likely cause further litigation over the issue of child custody.

The current economic crisis has also pushed divorcing couples to seek alternatives to expensive divorce litigation.  More couples are now trying to reach an agreement through divorce mediation,.  Hiring a divorce mediation attorney can save both spouses a lot of money compared to the expense of the divorce litigation process.  In today’s economy, everyone is much more aware of financial issues, and the lower cost of divorce mediation can be a money-saving alternative for divorcing couples.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact California Divorce Mediators at (949)553-0911 or at

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

The Benefits Of A Cohabitation Agreement For Unmarried Couples Are Many

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.


As cohabitation is on the rise in the United States, many of those who have kids under one roof but remain unmarried often help each other with expenses. Nearly 75 percent of these households keep their assets separate but equally pay for child and household expenditures, noted the PewResearchCenter. A big portion of these households see cohabitating as a step toward marriage.

When each person is contributing to the household and they want to truly make sure each person is doing so fairly and with an eye toward the future, a cohabitation agreement can make sure each person knows their duties and responsibilities.  This type of agreement helps set the future up for success and all the anticipated events that could happen.

A recent study in the journal Family Relations echoed similar findings. Many people do not want to plunge into marriage, but decide to live together. More than 65 percent are worried about divorce and the economic, social, legal, and emotional fallout that can happen with a failed marriage. The study interviewed cohabiting women and men between 18- and 36-years-old.

The study showed a similar percentage desire to marry only once, so cohabiting is a way to test the waters.  They are living like a married couple but without the piece of paper and a ring.

A cohabitation agreement can go beyond just financial duties and child responsibilities.  Many couples use it to state their health care wishes, the division of assets and debts, and wishes for each other.  This can be important in the event of a crisis and there are opposing sides of the family.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact California Divorce Mediators at (949) 553-0911 or visit


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

Beware of What You Post On Social Media During Divorce & Child Custody Proceedings

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce mediators; California divorce mediatorsBy:  Gerald Maggio, Esq.

Relationships are established much quicker in our hyper social media age. It used to be that relationships evolved over months but with technology – whether texting, social media, or email communication – everything happens at a rapid pace. For marriages that are on the rocks, a spouse can rekindle or find a new love and intensify the bonds rapidly.  This means more affairs more easily enabled by such technology.

When a person is having a bad day at home with a spouse, they often turn to social media to relieve their stress and get back some enjoyment. But before you start to post negative comments about your spouse or send inappropriate pictures or posts over social media, think twice, especially when child custody is involved.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers notes that 75 percent of divorce lawyers are utilizing evidence from social media in marriage dissolutions. Use caution and restraint when posting on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any online social media outlets or you could cause more trouble than your post was worth.  Remember it is not social media that is causing the problem, it is your behavior and comments that are inappropriate.  You do not want to have to deal with a moment of questionable judgment that is now something you not only regret out of embarrassment but more importantly, can be used against you in court.  Your ex’s lawyer will use, and the judge can consider, these posts, so exercise restraint so that problems are minimized.

So do yourself a favor and either stay off all social media altogether or otherwise exercise extreme caution until the divorce is finalized and you want to start a new relationship. Otherwise, you could jeopardize your child custody case and outcome of your divorce because of inappropriate behavior.

For more information or to set up a consultation, please contact California Divorce Mediators at (949) 553-0911 or at

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

Divorcing People Should Focus On Their Kids, Not Their Anger

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce mediators; California divorce mediatorsBy Gerald Maggio, Esq.

Divorces typically are all about the two adults who can no longer get along and who gets what assets, property, and privileges. Even though each spouse might equally love the children, oftentimes divorce can bring out the worst behaviors in a parent. Before, during, and after the divorce proceedings, it is critical to focus on a healthy and nurturing environment for the kids; otherwise, the negativity can have big consequences.

“Children tend not to tell you when they are angry, resentful, confused, hurt or depressed,” says author Rosaling Sedacca in her book How Do I Tell the Kids…about the Divorce?  “Instead, kids reflect their problems through their behavior – acting out or perhaps turning inward in ways that you have not experienced prior to the divorce. Take time to see the world through your children’s eyes and you will be better able to meet their needs, understand their confusion or aggression and find appropriate ways to dissolve tension through your conversation and caring behaviors.”

Parental behavior that involves negatively talking about one parent, missing or cutting into the other’s parenting time, or concealing the truth can wreak havoc on a child’s emotional wellbeing and alter their perceptions of how they should act. Children who watch parents say cruel things, lie, and seek revenge can end up being rude, hostile, dishonest, and hold grudges or worse.

Many child psychologists promote that parents must set aside whatever ill will they have towards their ex to effectively be a good parent. Yes, this will involve a daily focus to accept the child custody and shared parenting time. Halting the negative words and interacting proactively with your ex will show that people can be their own individuals and be courteous yet have their boundaries.

Divorce law and child custody agreements are all about the best interests of the children, so the earlier an individual focuses on this fact and has a good child custody attorney by their side will bring about faster and fair results. From visitation and shared parenting rights, to adequate child support and enforcement, a skilled child custody attorney will address all the factors needed for the children.

A schedule must be created so that each child will get to enjoy a normal schedule with each parent as well as specific holidays, vacations, birthdays, and special cultural and religious days. Patience, tolerance, and communication are critical to make the schedule work and ensure that the kids are benefitting from it. The agreement will also detail decisions regarding medical, education, religious, and any other special considerations for the children.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact California Divorce Mediators at (949) 553-0911 or at

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