Child Custody and Establishing Paternity

Child Custody and Establishing Paternity

Children deserve to have a strong bond with good parents and be protected from inappropriate, dangerous, or abusive behavior. This is why child custody matters are so critical. Obtaining custody of your child and establishing paternity can be a tough challenge, but experienced legal guidance and representation can help.

Attorney Judy L. Burger is a Certified Family Law Specialist in California with extensive experience in child custody and paternity cases. She discusses these vital issues below.

Why Is Paternity So Important?

Establishing a child’s legal parentage is critical because many things depend on it. Legal parents have significant rights and responsibilities that directly influence the child’s well-being.

Legal parents:

  • Can ask for custody and visitation
  • Are required to support their child financially
  • Are listed on a California birth certificate
  • Can bequeath financial benefits to their child
  • Can guarantee U.S. citizenship, even if the child was born outside the country

Determining a child’s legal parents can involve emotional and complex issues and is best handled with the guidance of a family law attorney. Judy Burger can help you establish parentage of a child in California.

Ways to Establish Legal Parentage

California law establishes legal parentage in the following circumstances:

  1. You are the child’s birth parent (not a surrogate)
  2. You and the other parent were married or registered domestic partners when your child was born or conceived 
  3. You and the other parent filed a Declaration that establishes you as the legal parents
  4. A judge determined that you are a legal parent in a court case

You and the other parent can establish legal parentage for your child by completing and filing a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP) form. This is typically done when the child is born but can be completed later. This becomes a binding legal document similar to a court order.

A California Family Law Court can determine the legal parentage of a child and establish child custody and support orders if necessary. California law allows fathers up to three years after the child’s 18th birthday to legally establish paternity.

Father’s Rights and Paternity

California law distinguishes between a “parent” and a “biological father.” Once the biological father has established his parental rights, he can legally request custody or visitation, pay or receive child support, and make decisions on the child’s behalf. The mother cannot deny the father’s legal rights once paternity has been established unless exceptional circumstances have been recognized by the court.

Although a man may be the biological father of a child, paternity can only be legally established through adoption, marriage, or a court order. If a child is born outside of marriage or as a result of an extramarital affair, the biological father has no legal rights. In such cases, the woman’s legal spouse would automatically be granted paternity rights over the child. However, a biological father has up to two years from the date of the child’s birth to petition the court for a paternity test.

Experienced CA Child Custody and Paternity Lawyer

Judy L. Burger is an experienced CA Child Custody and Paternity Lawyer with eight offices across the Golden State. She is a Certified Family Law Specialist with extensive knowledge and expertise in handling volatile and complex cases where paternity is an issue and child custody questions are at stake. When your family life and responsibilities are in question or other problems arise with paternity, Ms. Burger can help you fight for what is best for your child.

Contact her nearest office today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation and get sound legal advice. Judy and her team care, and we know how to help.

Splitting Liabilities in a CA Divorce

Splitting Liabilities in a CA Divorce

Dividing assets and liabilities in a California divorce can be problematic. Some elements of property division are not cut and dried, and many factors can influence how these arrangements are made. Many are concerned about getting their share of the assets from a marriage, but what happens to the debts?

Certified Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger addresses the complexities involved in splitting liabilities in a CA divorce and how she can help.

Community Property and Debt

California operates under the community property principle, a system designed to ensure fairness. This means generally that, in the absence of other arrangements, both parties will receive an equal share of everything they acquired while married. Any separate property owned before the marriage or obtained after the separation remains the owner’s sole property, providing a sense of security in the process. There are complex exceptions to the division of property acquired during marriage or prior to marriage. 

However, the community property principle also applies to debt. Other arrangements can also come into play here, but typically, both parties in a divorce are responsible for half of the debt incurred  during the marriage.. Unfortunately, these issues are not always so black and white—they more often appear filled with grey areas.

A CA Property Division Lawyer like Judy Burger can work with you to help make the best decisions and arrangements.

Dividing Debt in a California Divorce

Property division can be confusing because of so many potential exceptions relating to community, separate, and co-mingled assets. Here are just a few potential examples:

  1. The divorcing couple’s marital debts are greater than the value of their community assets. A family law judge may assign more debt to the spouse earning more income.
  2. Some marital debt incurred by one spouse may be ruled as separate debt by the judge due to extenuating circumstances (like a cheating spouse using family money to buy gifts or fund travel for the affair).
  3. Student debt funded by marital income may be ruled as separate debt to the one benefitting from the education. One spouse may be directed to reimburse the other for a portion of the student debt already paid.

Complex situations like these are why you need an experienced CA property division lawyer on your team to help ensure you are treated fairly.

Date of Separation and Property Division

California is somewhat unique in that it uses the date of your separation to distinguish between most marital and separate property. Most other states use the official date of the divorce. Once both parties agree the marriage is over, they are considered to be leading separate lives (even if they still live together). From that moment, both are acquiring separate assets and debts.

This is a significant matter in your divorce, but agreeing on a specific date of separation can be tricky. The exact date can be argued from many points and affects which assets and debts are to be retained, split, or surrendered to the other spouse.

Get Experienced Help with CA Property Division

California Certified Family Law Specialist Judy Burger has the resources, working relationships, and expertise to help with the most complex property and debt divisions and business valuations. She harnesses the expertise of various professionals to help ascertain pertinent facts that influence who should be responsible for debts and how assets are to be divided.

Spouses and their attorneys cannot always be trusted to act fairly, so you need an experienced lawyer guarding your best interests. Decisions and arrangements made during these negotiations can affect your life and future. Contact Attorney Judy Burger at one of her eight offices conveniently located throughout California to schedule a consultation.


Your Top 12 Child Custody FAQs Answered

Your Top 12 Child Custody FAQs Answered

Child custody is one of family law’s most complicated and emotional issues. Parents understandably have questions and concerns about the child custody process. Certified Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger answers the top 12 child custody questions clients ask us throughout California.

Most Common Child Custody FAQs

  1. What is child custody?

Child custody is the legal and physical responsibility for a child. Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about a child’s upbringing, including education, religion, and healthcare. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and who cares for the child.

  1. What is the difference between sole and joint custody? Sole custody means that one parent has exclusive legal and physical custody of the child. Joint custody means that both parents share legal and physical custody of the child.
  2. What factors do the courts consider when determining child custody? The courts consider several factors when determining child custody, including the child’s age and needs, the parents’ ability to care for the child, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any history of abuse or neglect.
  3. Can grandparents or other family members get custody of a child? In some cases, grandparents or other family members can get custody of a child. However, the court will consider the child’s best interests and the parents’ rights before awarding custody to a third party.
  4. Can a child choose which parent to live with? Sometimes, a child can express a preference for which parent to live with. The court will consider the child’s age and maturity level before taking their preference into account.
  5. Can child custody orders be modified? Yes, child custody orders can be modified if there has been a significant change in circumstances, such as a parent’s relocation or a change in the child’s needs.
  6. What is a parenting plan? A parenting plan is a written agreement between parents that outlines each parent’s responsibilities and rights regarding the child. It includes details about custody, visitation, and decision-making.
  7. What is supervised visitation? Supervised visitation is when a parent is allowed to visit with their child but only under the supervision of a third party, such as a social worker or family member.
  8. Can a parent move out of state with their child after a custody order has been issued? If a parent wants to move out of state with their child after a custody order has been issued, they must obtain permission from the other parent or the court.
  9. Can I get custody of a child in another state?

It is possible, but it requires petitioning for custody in the state where the child lives. Attorney Judy Burger can help you understand the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and what is required.

  1. How can I prove the other parent is unfit?

This requires presenting evidence to the court that demonstrates the other parent clearly endangers your child’s safety and well-being. Photos, videos, doctor reports, witness testimony, and more may be used to present your case.

  1. What are my parental rights?

Married spouses have joint custody of their children under the law until a court-ordered custody order is in effect. Unmarried mothers have sole physical custody of their children until the father legally establishes paternity. Court-issued custody orders grant certain rights according to the circumstances.

What If I Have Other Questions?

What should I do if I need help with child custody issues? If you need help with child custody issues, you should consult with experienced Family Law Attorney Judy Burger. She can help you understand your rights and options and guide you through the legal process.

Child custody can be a complex and emotional issue. Understanding the process and your rights can help you make informed decisions and protect your child’s best interests. Contact Certified Family Law Specialist Judy Burger with your questions and concerns.


What Makes a CA Certified Family Law Specialist Different?

What Makes a CA Certified Family Law Specialist Different?

Family law matters are often intensely personal and highly emotional. Dealing with families and relationships is always complex and much is at stake for everyone involved. You want more than an attorney when family law issues arise – you want a specialist. California Family Law Attorney Judy L. Burger is a Certified Family Law Specialist who is able to handle complex personal cases through court petitions, negotiation, and litigation.

What makes a CA Certified Family Law Specialist different from run-of-the-mill family law and divorce lawyers?

A High Level of Specialization

Obtaining a law degree and passing the California State Bar exam to practice law is only the beginning. Certified specialists in any area of law must pass a rigorous set or requirements to demonstrate their exceptional knowledge, experience, and proficiency. Only after completing this extensive process does the state bar award the attorney a specialist certificate.

To become a Certified Family Law Specialist in CA, attorneys must satisfy the following prerequisites

  1. Pass a written examination
  2. Continuously practice law in their specialty area for at least five years
  3. Complete continuing education in their specialty area
  4. Receive favorable evaluations by other attorneys and judges
  5. Demonstrate experience in a variety of family law matters, including divorce, child custody, child and spousal support, domestic violence restraining orders, property division, and more.

Becoming a certified family law specialist takes time, experience, and extensive knowledge.

Superior Experience in Family Law Cases

Certified Family Law Specialists must continue to demonstrate their expertise by handling complex family law cases to further broaden their knowledge and experience. Recertification every five years requires more continuing education while putting this extensive knowledge into action helping California families.

A CFLS will have considerable experience with:

  • Messy divorces
  • Complex business valuations
  • Sophisticated property divisions
  • Tense negotiations
  • Filing petitions with the court
  • Advising clients
  • Litigating difficult child custody and support cases
  • Ex parte hearings
  • Domestic violence
  • More…

Seasoned representation by a Certified Family Law Specialist like Judy Burger means the putting encyclopedic knowledge, extensive education, years of real-world experience, and measured expertise in your corner. She is vastly more qualified to help you get the results you need and want than other non-certified family law attorneys.

Why Should I Choose a Certified Family Law Specialist Instead of a Family Law Attorney?

Family law matters can be rough on you mentally and emotionally. The possible complexities and problems are legion and specific to every case. However, a CFLS has likely encountered similar cases before and has experience helping families find solutions. If you anticipate a difficult road ahead in your divorce, child custody, support, or related matters, choose a CFLS like Judy L. Burger.

Here are some examples of cases where we recommend a Certified Family Law Specialist:

  • Both parties have agreed to a divorce, but that’s all you agree on.
  • You have differences of opinion about matters like college debt, large real estate holdings, retirement funds, and other asset divisions.
  • You have small children still at home and cannot agree on a custody and support arrangement.
  • Both parties grew up in different cultures, so family rights and extended family concerns are involved.
  • Both parties jointly own a business.
  • One or both divorcing parties are active duty military.
  • You or your child’s safety is threatened.
  • You or your child are victims of abuse.

CFLS Judy Burger has trained for just these and many other situations so she knows how to help you. In fact, she’s been there with other families before. She can guide you through negotiations, difficult conversations, far-reaching decisions, and even embattled litigation with compassion and fortitude.

When you need stable counsel and steady legal representation through one of the most difficult times of your life, you need the services of a Certified Family Law Specialist. Contact The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger as soon as possible to discuss your case and next steps. We have offices throughout California for your convenience.