Supervised Custody Exchanges in California

Supervised Custody Exchanges in California
One of the most difficult aspects of divorce is its effect on children. It is particularly hard for children when their parents do not speak to each other or, worse yet, fight when they do. The public policy of the state of California is to support the best interest of the state’s children. One way this is done is by providing for supervised custody exchanges.

Supervised custody exchanges are designed to make it easier for parents to transfer the child between one another. A neutral third party supervises the exchange. In fact, the parents need not see each other at all.

By preventing the parents from interacting, supervised custody exchanges reduce the negative impact of divorce on California’s children. They also reduce the likelihood that children will be exposed to foul language, physical hostility between the parents, or discussions of adult issues.

Supervised custody exchanges are carried out at a neutral location. By way of example, the two parents would report to the same location, such as a school, but at different times. Each would wait in a separate room. Once everyone was there, the child and his or her belongings would be transferred from one parent to the other by way of the neutral third party. In this way, the parents would not need to encounter one another at all, even in the parking lot.

As with California’s supervised visitation program, the core of supervised custody exchanges is the safety of the child and other involved parties, followed by the best interest of the child. You can read more about supervised visitation at our earlier blog here.

An experienced California family lawyer will advocate for the custody and visitation plan that is best for your children. If you are involved in a difficult divorce or separation, contact the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We have decades of experience in contested divorce and custody issues, and we will put our experience to work for you. Call (415) 259-6636 to get started today.

Supervised Visitation in California

Supervised Visitation in California
Supervised visitation is a tool available to California judges when they want to ensure safety and look out for the best interest of a child. Supervised visitation allows a non-custodial parent to visit with his or her child in a safe environment under the supervision of a neutral third party.

There are several reasons a court might use supervised visitation, such as the following:

  • to allow the child and parent to become acquainted or reacquainted if they have no relationship or have been apart for some time;
  • to prevent the parent from abducting the child:
  • to address concerns about parenting skills or parental mental illness; and
  • to allow the parent and child to see each other even though there may be concerns about child abuse or neglect.

The legislature’s top priority in supervised visitation is “the safety of children, adults, and visitation supervisors.” After safety is assured, the paramount consideration is “the best interest of the child.”

California law allows for professional, paid providers to supervise visitation. However it also permits this need to be met by a nonprofessional provider, who is often a family member or friend. In either case, the law strictly regulates the qualifications of supervising providers. Regardless, the following three criteria apply:

  • no prior convictions for crimes against the person, including child molestation or abuse;
  • “no current or past court order in which the provider is the person being supervised”; and
  • if the person will be transporting the child, proof of current automobile insurance.

Professional providers must receive extensive training in many areas, including the following:

  • the responsibilities and duties of providers and their specific role;
  • laws relating to child abuse reporting, family law, and juvenile law;
  • child development needs;
  • cultural sensitivities; and
  • confidentiality

Supervised visitation sessions may be terminated if rules are violated, the child is “acutely distressed,” or a safety issue is present.

Supervised visitation provides an important means for a child to build or maintain a relationship with his or her noncustodial parent. If you need legal assistance in a hotly contested child custody or visitation matter, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger will provide respectful legal support. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.

California Law on Premarital Agreements

California Law on Premarital Agreements
If asked, few people would willingly turn over their future financial decisions to lawmakers or judges, but the truth is that without a premarital agreement, that is exactly what happens. Executing a premarital agreement gives both parties control over future financial matters. And premarital agreements are designed for more than just divorce.

In fact, California law allows the parties to a planned marriage a great degree of control over future financial matters, regardless of how the marriage ends. For example, a couple could agree to one set of conditions if the marriage ended in divorce but a separate set of conditions if the marriage ended with the death of one of the parties.

At the core of a valid premarital agreement are voluntariness and full disclosure. In fact, if either of these conditions are not met, the agreement is unenforceable. In addition, a premarital agreement must be made before the marriage occurs. The agreement only becomes effective after the marriage has been formalized.

A couple can set forth their respective rights and obligations with regard to several matters in a premarital agreement:

  • real and personal property ownership, management, and control;
  • the disposition of property at the termination of the marriage;
  • the requirement to create another document — such as a will or trust — to execute the provisions of the premarital agreement; and
  • the ownership and disposition of life insurance death benefits.

A premarital agreement may make provisions for spousal support, but, by law, it cannot control child support or child custody.

California law relating to premarital agreements also contains several formalities that must be followed for the agreement to be enforceable. If you need the assistance of an experienced California family lawyer to protect your interests in the drafting or interpretation of a premarital agreement, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger can help. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can fight for you: (415) 293-8314.

What Must You Disclose about Your Assets and Liabilities in Your California Divorce Proceeding?

What Must You Disclose about Your Assets and Liabilities in Your California Divorce Proceeding?
It is human nature to not want to disclose financial details with your soon-to-be-ex spouse. However, when you are involved in a legal proceeding for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or nullity, it is mandatory that you do so. In fact, failing to make full and accurate disclosures can have severe consequences.

Under California law, spouses must act as “fiduciaries” to one another. This is an obligation of the highest order, requiring each spouse to deal with the other in “good faith” and not to take “unfair advantage” of the other. The fiduciary duty continues past the date of separation even while the divorce case is pending. The fiduciary duty also applies when it is time to make mandatory financial disclosures during the legal proceedings.

California law provides for the systematic disclosure of financial information between the spouses. Complete and accurate disclosure is important for several reasons:

  • It prevents the parties from dissipating assets before the court officially distributes them.
  • It helps to “ensure fair and sufficient child and spousal support awards.”
  • It helps the court divide the couple’s assets and liabilities.
  • It helps reduce acrimony between the parties.

The first disclosure is considered preliminary and consists of two main documents: the “Schedule of Debts and Assets” and the “income and expense declaration.” These documents are both basic inventories. The first document must list all actual or potential assets and liabilities, regardless of how they are titled or listed on paper. The second document must provide information about each party’s income and expenses. Both parties have an ongoing duty to update these documents immediately if there are any material changes.

The second disclosure is called final. The final disclosures provide much more detail about each party’s financial information. These documents must provide “all material facts and information” about assets, liabilities, community property, community obligations, and party income and expenses.

California laws include specific requirements that must be met in financial disclosures. If these requirements are not met, the court can impose monetary sanctions, including attorney’s fees and costs, and can hold the party in contempt of court. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in family law matters, including financial disclosures. Contact us today to learn how our attorneys can help you in your case: (415) 293-8314.

What Happens to Real Property Owned Outside the State in a California Divorce?

What Happens to Real Property Owned Outside the State in a California Divorce?

Have you ever wondered whether California judges have the right to make rulings that relate to out-of-state property? In divorces and legal separations, one of the most important aspects of the case is the division of the couple’s property. Often, in addition to owning property in the state of California, one or both of the partners own real property—generally known as land—out-of-state.

California family law judges do not have jurisdiction over real property that is located outside the state. Therefore, they cannot make orders that directly affect the property itself. However, they do have jurisdiction over the parties to the proceeding and can therefore require the parties to take certain actions or risk being held in contempt of court.

Under California law, property acquired by either party during the marriage is generally considered to be community property. You may read more about the nature of community and separate property here. Community property is subject to equitable distribution in a divorce or legal separation proceeding.

Out-of-state real property is known as quasi-community property if it is acquired in one of two ways:

  • By a spouse “while domiciled elsewhere which would have been community property if the spouse . . . had been domiciled” in California at the time; or
  • By a spouse “in exchange for” such property.

Quasi-community property is treated as community property for the purpose of equitable distribution.

If an asset is deemed to be quasi-community property, California law provides that a judge must first try to award the property to one spouse and offset its value by awarding property of equal value to the other spouse. If this cannot be done, the judge may decide to take one of the following two routes:

  • “Require the parties to execute conveyances . . . as are necessary”; or
  • Award the party who is not obtaining an interest in the property “the money value of the interest in the property” she would have received.

The value of out-of-state real property can be a significant issue in a California divorce or dissolution proceeding. If you are involved in such a proceeding and disputed property rights are involved, you want an attorney with substantial experience in Northern California who will represent you aggressively. Please contact the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger at (415) 259-6636 to learn more.