My Spouse Left Me. Can I Claim Desertion as Grounds for Divorce

My Spouse Left Me. Can I Claim Desertion as Grounds for Divorce?

TV shows and movies often talk about people having ‘grounds for divorce.’ Sometimes, you might even see a distressed spouse hiring a private investigator to get photos of their spouse’s wrongdoing to firm up their plan to end their marriage. In some states, couples might have to choose one of several reasons they want a divorce, including cruelty or adultery. But if your spouse has left you, and you live in California, can you claim desertion as the grounds for your divorce?

California is a No-Fault Divorce State

But does ‘no-fault’ means you don’t have to have grounds for divorce when you file your petition?

No-fault means that neither party has to prove that the other party did anything wrong. For example, you don’t have to prove that your spouse committed adultery. You also don’t have to provide evidence that your husband or wife has deserted you.

Under California law, you can state two basic reasons for your divorce:

  • Irreconcilable differences. This means that your marital bond is completely broken as you and your spouse can no longer live together.
  • Permanent legal incapacity to make decisions. You are divorcing your spouse due to mental illness or insanity.

Limiting divorce to the two reasons listed above can make the process easier for the spouse who wants the divorce. Also, keep this in mind:  It is not necessary for both spouses to want to terminate the marriage. Only one spouse has to file the divorce petition. The other party cannot stop the divorce by simply refusing to participate in the process.

Other Issues Related to Desertion and Abandonment Issues

While you do not have to claim desertion to get your divorce, it can affect your divorce proceedings.

For example, California law requires that you serve your divorce papers on your spouse. You don’t have to prove desertion as grounds for divorce, but you do need to know where your spouse is living if at all possible. If you cannot locate your spouse, you and your family law attorney can explore other options to finalize your divorce.

When one spouse abandons the other, financial support might become an immediate problem. If you have been left with no financial support because of desertion, talk to your attorney to see if temporary orders will help.

Likewise, you might need temporary orders to clarify child custody and visitation. Again, tell your attorney everything so he or she can give you the right advice.

Talk to Us About Your Grounds for Divorce

California family law attorneys understand how the law will apply to your situation. At least you can end your marriage without having to prove that your spouse did anything wrong, like desertion.

Talk to an experienced California divorce attorney today. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Please call us at 415-293-8314 to discuss your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

Planning Your Children’s Summer Holidays with Your Ex-Spouse

Planning Your Children’s Summer Holidays with Your Ex-Spouse

Amanda likes to schedule her children’s summer holidays far in advance. This year, she plans to take them to a camp in Colorado for two weeks in July. In fact, she has already made the reservations. However, the children’s father, Jacob, disagrees with her plan. He was already planning stuff for the kids to do in July and has put down several non-refundable deposits. Since the divorce, Amanda and Jacob have handled their children’s schedules amicably for the most part. But planning your children’s summer holidays with your ex-spouse is no picnic, and they can’t get past their current disagreement. What can divorced parents who disagree about their children’s schedules do?

Look to the Parenting Plan

Parents must negotiate a parenting plan before their divorce can be finalized. There are good reasons for this.

Parenting plans make sure both parents know where they stand when it comes to some very important issues, including their children’s holidays. During negotiations, parents can stake out holidays that mean the most to them. Most people include their children’s summer schedule in their parenting plan.  

Under Amanda and Jacob’s parenting plan, Amanda should have the children in June and August. Jacob is supposed to have them the entire month of July. In the current scenario, Amanda’s planned vacation contradicts the negotiated parenting plan.

But Life Changes

Sometimes parenting plans no longer fit. Jacob and Amanda can speak to their attorneys about revising the plan at any time. The children’s summer plans can be changed, as well as any other holidays. If divorced parents cannot settle their disagreements, then mediation or court intervention might be necessary. However, it’s generally best for the children if parents can work out minor disagreements on their own.

Being proactive also can go a long way toward preventing disputes from blowing out of proportion. Had Amanda discussed her plans with Jacob before either of them made reservations or put down non-refundable deposits, they might have reached an amicable compromise. As it stands now, their disagreement could spoil the children’s summer holiday and create tension between the parents and their kids.

Are You and Your Ex-Spouse Fighting Over the Children’s Summer Holidays?

Hopefully not. But if you find yourselves at odds over any aspect of your parenting plan, talk to a family law attorney as soon as possible. And always remember that courts make decisions based on what is best for the children.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

Can You Legally Snoop on Your Spouse

Can You Legally Snoop on Your Spouse?

Simon felt his wife, Terry, was behaving suspiciously. He felt the strong urge to find out what she was up to, but he wasn’t sure what to do. Simon wondered if you can legally snoop on your spouse. Hopefully, he will check with an attorney before doing anything.

Wiretapping, Eavesdropping, and Surveillance – Oh, My!

Some of the ways you might use to snoop on your spouse include:

  • Installing hidden cameras,
  • Putting a tracking device on their car,
  • Adding keylogging software to electronic devices,
  • Accessing private email and bank accounts, and
  • Hacking into password-protected devices.

All of these are a terrible idea and could violate a number of laws.

For example, in California, you can put up security cameras around and even in your home. However, audio recordings are prohibited unless all parties give their consent.

More importantly, recording devices cannot be installed where your spouse or other parties have the right to expect privacy.

Right to Privacy in a Marriage

You and your spouse share a home, a bed, and probably at least one bank account. However, you each have the right to keep certain information private. Your spouse is bound by the same surveillance or snooping laws that keep your neighbor from wiretapping your phone.

Grounds Not Required – So Why Snoop on Your Spouse?

You might be tempted to legally snoop on your spouse.

But why?

What you find might firm up your decision to file for divorce – while causing a lot more heartbreak. However, not only will the information probably be inadmissible in court, but you don’t even need it. California is a no-fault divorce state, which means you do not need grounds for divorce.

Breaking the Law Hurts You

Depending on what you find, your spouse might not be held accountable for his or her actions. However, you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law. When you snoop on your spouse, you could be breaking laws regarding illegal surveillance and the right to privacy.

Anyone else you happen to surveil could be angry enough to press charges if you broke the law. It’s simply better all-around to talk to an experienced California divorce attorney before doing anything. There might be ways to legally investigate your spouse’s activities.

Talk to Us Before Trying to Legally Snoop on Your Spouse

The attorneys at The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are well-versed in divorce and the dissolution of registered domestic partnerships. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients with divorce matters in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Diego, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.
Understanding California Paternity Laws

Understanding California Paternity Laws

Divorce is fraught with sensitive issues. One of the most delicate involves the parenthood of children whose parents are divorcing. If you are thinking of ending your marriage – and you have kids — understanding California’s paternity laws is a must.

Why Paternity Matters

A child’s parentage affects child support, custody, and visitation. In some cases, courts will not sign orders related to a child when paternity is in question. Unless a person is legally established as the father or mother, that person has no rights or responsibilities regarding the child.

Confirming parentage is also important because children have the right to:

  • Financial support from mom and dad,
  • Legal documents that identify both parents,
  • An accurate birth certificate listing both mom and dad,
  • Insurance coverage,
  • Inherit from their parents, and
  • Receive social security, veteran’s benefits, and other government benefits based on their parents.

From an emotional standpoint, most people want to know who their father and mother are. Legally speaking, parentage makes a difference also.

When Courts Get Involved

Generally, children born during a marriage are assumed to be the husband and wife’s biological children. Family court judges usually establish parentage automatically.

However, fathers of children who are not married to the mother when the child was born must legally establish their paternity. Other situations where a man might establish parentage include:

  • The child was conceived while the father was trying to marry the mother or thought he was married to her.
  • The man agreed to serve as the father on the birth certificate or agreed to provide financial support to the child.
  • The man acted as if the child were his own, even though the child is not biologically his.

Family courts may be involved in any case where questions about a child’s paternity exist. For example, a married man who doesn’t believe he is the father of his wife’s child might ask for a determination in order to avoid responsibilities for someone else’s child.

What the Law Says

Some sections of the California Family Code specifically address the parent-child relationship. Frankly, most if not all of the laws related to parents apply to our topic. Before laws related to the rights and responsibilities of a parent take effect, parentage must be established.

We Can Help Decipher California Paternity Laws for You

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

Full Financial Disclosure - California Divorce Laws Require It

Full Financial Disclosure – California Divorce Laws Require It

Emma wanted to divorce her husband, Chaz, for many reasons. He was unfaithful, emotionally abusive, and just an all-around jerk. But Emma was particularly happy as she filed her divorce petition because she would finally know Chaz’s complete financial picture. For many years, Emma had been held hostage when it came to money because of Chaz’s secretive ways. Now, both she and Chaz each would have to file a full financial disclosure under California law. But if he hid his money, would Emma and her divorce lawyer have any options?

What does “full financial disclosure” really mean?

During a divorce, the couple’s marital assets and debts are divided. But you cannot come up with a realistic property division unless you know what property and debts are involved.

“Full financial disclosure” means just what it says. Both parties to the marriage have to provide a complete picture of what they own and what they owe. Since California is a community property state, most income, assets, and debts acquired during a marriage belong to both parties – but there are exceptions. In fact, property division is complicated and should not be attempted without help from an experienced divorce attorney.

What does the disclosure of financial information work?

First, you serve your preliminary declaration of disclosure on your spouse. You do not have to file your financial disclosures with your divorce petition. However, you must serve them no later than 60 days afterward. The disclosures are not filed with the court, but you will file a Declaration of Disclosure and some other documents with the court that prove you took this step.

Your spouse will serve his or her preliminary disclosures on you.

As your divorce case proceeds, you might need to file a final disclosure.

The information submitted in your disclosures will be used for several reasons, including calculating property division. Child support and spousal support might also be affected.

How will I find money and assets omitted from my spouse’s financial disclosures?

If you and your lawyer feel information is missing, you might have to hire a forensic accountant to investigate. Also, watch for any documents, social media posts, or other signs that your spouse has hidden assets from you.

Are there any consequences for withholding information?

Absolutely! The judge can set aside your property settlement or even cancel it. If your divorce has already ended before you learn of the withheld information, the judge might reopen your case to review the new information.

People who lie on their disclosures may be unpleasantly surprised when the judge orders them to hand over the withheld assets. Finally, the withholder of information might be forced to pay the innocent spouse’s attorney’s fees.

Both Parties Need to Make Full Financial Disclosure in a Divorce

Talk to an experienced California divorce attorney today. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Please call us at 415-293-8314 to discuss your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.
Getting a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Getting a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Before reading this article, please remember that your Internet activity can be monitored. Make sure you clear your browser history after reading or after viewing any site related to domestic violence. If you or your children are currently in danger, please call 9-1-1- or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Also, please contact an attorney about getting a domestic violence restraining order. The following blog gives you some vital information about these restraining orders.

Understanding Domestic Violence

We typically think domestic violence only occurs between people who are dating or married – in other words, intimate partners. However, the scope is much broader and includes:

  • Former intimate partners,
  • Someone with whom you have had a child, and
  • Close relatives, including parents, children, brothers, sisters, and so on.

Also, the term domestic violence does not exclusively refer to serious physical injuries. In fact, the following behavior is considered domestic violence:

  • Intentionally or recklessly hurting you,
  • Threatening or promising to hurt you,
  • Sexual assault,
  • Harassing, stalking, disturbing the peace, or destroying your personal property.

Have you experienced any of the behavior listed above? It might be time to consider getting a domestic violence restraining order.

The Courts and Your Domestic Violence Restraining Order

California family courts offer avenues through which you can get relief from your situation. For example, domestic violence restraining orders can restrain someone from:

  • Contacting you and the people close to you;
  • Going to the places that you frequent, including work, home, and school;
  • Having a gun;
  • Withholding child support or spousal support;
  • Making financial or insurance decisions that affect you;
  • Refusing to return your property.

Your domestic violence restraining order cannot terminate your marriage. You will have to file a divorce petition to do that.

What’s Next?

The process for getting domestic violence restraining order is as follows:

  • Ask the court for the order.
  • If the judge grants your request, your first order will be temporary until a hearing can be held.
  • Your request is served on the person who is harming you.
  • You and the other party appear at a court hearing, where the judge decides whether to continue or cancel the domestic restraining order.

Always keep copies of court orders. Also, we gently encourage you to have an attorney represent you throughout the court proceedings.

Call to Discuss Your Divorce and Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Divorce is stressful. Domestic violence ramps up the distress, but you don’t have to do this alone. Your legal representative can walk you through the divorce process, especially if you need a domestic violence restraining order.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

How a Forensic Accountant Can Help with Your Divorce Settlement

How a Forensic Accountant Can Help with Your Divorce Settlement

After 12 years of marriage, Blake usually knew when his wife Amanda was lying. Or, at least, he knew enough to be suspicious. The problem was proving it. Blake was especially concerned because he had just filed for divorce and knew he needed help. He and his attorney considered all the reasons they might want to hire a forensic accountant.

Analyzing and Corroborating Financial Information

A forensic accountant has the training and experience to do a deep dive into your finances. He or she can analyze your spouse’s financial disclosures and other property-related records more thoroughly than you can. They know what should be in the record and what should not be.

Identifying and Locating Hidden Assets

For example, many spouses try to hide assets from their spouses during a divorce. A forensic accountant is adept at searching and finding property that might otherwise be overlooked.

Untangling Business Interests

Business assets are often difficult to divide during the property division phase of a divorce. Experts like a forensic accountant can give you a clearer picture of how much a business is worth in terms of community property or separate property.

Calculating Potential Child Support and Spousal Support

It is necessary to understand the parties’ finances before agreeing on child support and spousal support. If the parties cannot agree, a family court judge could use your forensic accountant’s reports when calculating support payments.

Performing Traces to Characterize Property

Separate property belongs to only one spouse. Community property belongs to both spouses. However, sometimes the situation is murky, and it becomes difficult to decide whether property is separate, community, or quasi-community. Forensic accountants might have to trace back through financial records to determine how much of an asset should be divided between the parties.

Assisting and Advising Legal Counsel

Even the most experienced divorce attorney needs expert advice sometimes. Your forensic accountant provides an extra level of scrutiny to financial affairs, leaving your attorney free to deal with the legal issues.

Reporting and Testifying

Finally, your forensic accountant can be invaluable when it comes time to present his or her findings to the court. A well-written report based on factual evidence might go a long way toward helping your attorney get the best property division possible.

Let’s Talk About Forensic Accountants and Your Divorce Settlement

The attorneys at The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are well-versed in divorce and the dissolution of registered domestic partnerships. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to South California Coast.
Postnuptial Agreements in California Divorces

Postnuptial Agreements in California Divorces

Jan and Mike married when they were young and too in love to think about complicated things like finances and assets. After a few years, they started considering asking their attorneys to draft a document that addressed their new-found concerns. As they reviewed drafts of the document, Jan had some unwelcome thoughts about whether postnuptial agreements would hold up in a California divorce. She needed to learn more.

What are postnuptial agreements?

Unlike premarital agreements, these contracts are made by an already-married couple. Such agreements typically address property issues and the division of assets. 

Typically, postnuptial agreements must meet requirements set out by California contract law. For example, the agreement:

  • Must be in writing, and
  • Must be signed voluntarily by both spouses before a notary public.

Also, both parties must be honest and fully disclose their property interests when drafting the agreement.

Why would a couple want to sign this type of agreement?

There are several reasons, including:

  • One spouse has more assets than the other.
  • Either husband or wife expects to inherit or otherwise come into a lot of money.
  • One or both parties want to protect their assets from the other.
  • The couple cannot agree on how to handle their assets, including savings, investment accounts, and retirement accounts.

However, child custody and support issues cannot be addressed in such agreements.

Do courts recognize postnuptial agreements in California divorces?

Premarital agreements are recognized by the court as soon as they are signed. This does not mean every provision will hold up in court, but at least the agreement is acknowledged. On the other hand, postnuptial agreements are not valid until they have been presented to a family court and accepted by a judge.

California law does not directly address postnuptial agreements. However, California Family Code Section 1500 states:

“The property rights of spouses prescribed by statute may be altered by a premarital agreement or other marital property agreement.” [emphasis added]

So, provisions regarding property in postnuptial agreements might be upheld in court. The exception will be if the provisions violate the law in some other way.

Call to learn more about postnuptial agreements.

Postnuptial agreements could either complicate a California divorce or make it easier. Have you and your spouse signed one? If so, and you now want to dissolve your marriage, contact an experienced California divorce lawyer for advice.

Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys. Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

Issues that Complicate Divorce

Issues that Complicate Divorce

Many people consider divorce one of the most stressful life events. But not all divorces carry the same levels of stress. Some couples agree on any significant issues, which makes the resolution of their case fairly simple. Other soon-to-be-ex-spouses have a more difficult path because of one or more of the following issues that complicate divorce.

Spouse-Related Concerns Can Be Problematic

The issues you had with your husband or wife don’t stop when you file for divorce. Some may directly impact how your divorce proceeds.

  • Adultery. You do not need grounds for divorce in California. So, your final order or settlement might not be affected except for one thing: misuse of community funds. When one spouse uses marital property on a new love interest, courts might reimburse the innocent spouse in the form of a larger portion of the remaining marital funds.
  • Revenge. Some people complicate divorce by trying to take revenge because their spouse deeply hurt them. Vengeful feelings can delay settlement negotiations.
  • Pregnancy. This issue can complicate divorce because of questions about paternity. If the husband doubts the child is his, he might ask for paternity tests so the court can determine whether child support is appropriate.
  • Spousal Support. It is not easy to work out how much spousal support is due and how long it will be paid.

Married couples without children avoid some of the concerns that parents face.

Children Typically Complicate Divorce

It’s great when both parents love their children and want to care for them. But all that love can get lost in the shuffle of divorce papers.

  • Custody and Visitation. Before a judge can issue the final order, parents have to come up with a parenting plan. Custody can be contentious as couples navigate the four types of custody: sole physical, sole legal, joint physical, joint legal. They might use standard visitation schedules or personalize them to fit their child’s needs. However, working out children’s arrangements adds an extra layer of stress.
  • Child Support. Parents who do not have physical custody often pay monthly child support to the parent who does. Calculating the amount of support definitely can complicate divorce proceedings.

Fortunately, family court judges always try to make decisions that are in the best interests of the children.

Finances Are Often a Contested Issue

Money matters to most people. Whether a divorce is amicable or contentious, spouses generally want to get what they deserve from the marital estate. Unfortunately, some issues complicate divorce to the point that settlement might be several years down the road.

  • Muddled Property Classification. Couples might have separate property, which they retain, or community property (which is split between the parties). However, it is not always easy to decide whether property is separate or community. For example, disagreements arise when one party brings substantial assets into the marriage but fails to keep them separate. Sometimes property is partially separate and partially community. It might take experts to untangle complications like these.
  • High-Net-Worth. Having more property means there’s more property to classify and divide. Again, the parties might need a financial expert’s careful analysis.
  • Business Assets. Some property is easier to appraise than others. Determining the value of a business is typically difficult and can quickly complicate divorce.

Divorce can be difficult, but you don’t have to go it alone.

When Issues Complicate Divorce, You Need Experienced Legal Counsel

Talk to a qualified California divorce attorney today. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Please call us at 415-293-8314 to discuss your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients with divorce matters in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Diego, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.

Spousal Support After the In re Marriage of Ciprari Decision

Spousal Support After the In re Marriage of Ciprari Decision

Some divorces proceed in a relatively uneventful way. Others like In re Marriage of Ciprari drag on for years, then spend additional time on an appellate court docket. The California Appeals Court decision on spousal support brought up some interesting points.

The Story Behind In re Marriage of Ciprari

Dorothy (DeeDee) and Joseph Ciprari married on September 16, 1995. After almost 15 years of marriage, DeeDee filed for divorce in a case styled In re Marriage of Ciprari. Because of several complex issues, the final divorce was not issued until March 18, 2016.

The trial court awarded only $5,000 per month to DeeDee for spousal support, seemingly overlooking Joseph’s monthly income of $47,000. DeeDee appealed this decision. She also appealed several other decisions made by the trial court, but we will look only at the spousal support issues.

The Appeal Claims Regarding Spousal Support

In her appeal, DeeDee claimed that the trial court erred in considering only the Ciprari’s 2013 tax returns and not the 2014 return. One reason is that the 2014 tax returns were “more reliable indicators of actual 2014 income.”

Two other claims related to Joseph’s rental income and investment returns on divided assets. The appeal claims that the trial judge did not consider this income when ordering permanent spousal support.

Finally, the permanent spousal support award of $5,000 was considered low because of Joseph’s income and the couple’s marital standard of living. The trial judge felt that DeeDee’s claimed expenses were exaggerated but did not explain why he or she believed this or why $5,000 was an appropriate spousal support award.

The California Supreme Court’s Decision

The court rendered its decision on February 6, 2019. The decisions made on spousal support issues are as follows:

  • 2014 Tax Returns. Remanded. The trial court was ordered to consider income shown on the 2014 income tax returns, as well as other factors usually considered when calculating spousal support.
  • Rental Income and Investment Returns. Denied. The appellate court did not overturn the decisions, which were made at the trial judge’s discretion. Also, DeeDee’s appeal failed to provide evidence supporting her claims.
  • Amount of Permanent Spousal Support Award. Reversed and remanded. The trial court is expected to recalculate permanent spousal support considering income, expenses, and marital lifestyle.

Spousal support tends to be a tricky issue in divorces. We encourage you to discuss your case with an experienced California divorce attorney as soon as you begin thinking of dissolving your marriage

Will In re Marriage of Ciprari Affect Your Spousal Support?

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.