Category Archives: Child Custody

Parenting During a Pandemic The COVID-19 Impact on Custody and Visitation

Parenting During a Pandemic: The COVID-19 Impact on Custody and Visitation

Parenting after a divorce means setting up custody and visitation arrangements. At the end of the divorce, a judge signs off on a parenting plan that includes a visitation schedule and states what type of custody the parents have. For example, Darlene wanted her children to see their dad, Max, as often as possible. However, Max works in a hospital that cares for COVID-19 patients. Darlene has valid concerns about whether to allow the kids to visit Max. This is especially true for their youngest son, Dax, whose severe asthma puts him in the high-risk category for COVID-19 complications. As Darlene and Max struggle to work out their new lives, they face unique situations and uncharted waters. Continue reading

3 Tips for Handling a Child Custody Dispute

3 Tips for Handling a Child Custody Dispute

Divorce can be very upsetting, even if your marriage was a disaster. When children are involved, stress and emotions amp up even more. You may want to focus on helping your children cope with the changes in their lives, but you also have to meet with your ex-spouse to negotiate a parenting plan. After all, the court expects it – and will not finalize your divorcee without that plan. However, you can survive handling a child custody dispute. The following three tips may help.
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Can Cooperative Parenting Work for You

Can Cooperative Parenting Work for You?

Parenting issues are paramount when moms and dads divorce. Deciding where Sally and Johnny spend holidays and weekends can quickly become the most hotly contested issue in an already contentious situation. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you are involved in a custody battle, spend some time thinking about whether cooperative parenting can work for you, your ex-spouse and, especially, for your children.
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My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on Anything How to Negotiate Divorce Issues

My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on Anything: How to Negotiate Divorce Issues

Constant bickering and disagreements can lead a couple to turn to divorce. However, after filing the petition, the unhappy couple now have to resolve a lot of serious issues they couldn’t settle while they were married! If you and your spouse can’t agree on anything, be prepared. You still have to negotiate  divorce issues to reach a settlement. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
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How to Handle Holidays in Your Parenting Plan

How to Handle Holidays in Your Parenting Plan

Every year, Jessie’s parents fought over where she would spend Thanksgiving. Ethan had the opposite problem – both his parents preferred to spend holidays on exotic (and childless) vacations. Sheila hated talking to her ex-husband about the kids’ holidays, so she unhappily capitulated year after year. If you are in the process of getting divorced, know that it’s best to handle holidays in your parenting plan and not on a holiday-to-holiday basis.

Two Major Topics, Many Choices

Parents must complete a parenting plan before finalizing their divorce. In a California divorce, parenting plans cover two major areas:

  • Time-Share – how the children’s time will be split between parents; and
  • Decision making – how decisions about the children’s health, education, and welfare will be handled by the parents.

That sounds fairly easy – until you think of how many topics fall under each major area. For example, Time-Share involves a child’s regular schedule as well as how their time will be spent during holidays.

Scheduling Holiday Time

Trying to decide where your kids will spend Christmas and their birthdays can be stressful. Both parents may want the same days and times. Flexibility and spontaneity work sometimes, but the best time to plan your holidays is when you’re preparing your parenting plan.

In fact, parents prepare and attach a form titled “Children’s Holiday Schedule Attachment” to their parenting plan before submitting it for court approval. The form includes major holidays, as well as:

  • Lincoln’s Birthday (February 12),
  • President’s Day,
  • Spring Break (first and second halves),
  • Columbus Day,
  • Halloween,
  • Veterans Day (November 11),
  • Thanksgiving weekend,
  • December/January School Break, and
  • Birthdays, including child, mom, and dad.

Other options include:

  • Times. For example, the child may be with the mom from 8 pm Christmas Eve until noon Christmas Day.
  • Every Year. For instance, the child may spend Thanksgiving with Dad every year instead of alternating with Mom.
  • Even-Numbered/Odd-Numbered Years. Mom may have the kids on Christmas on even-numbered years, with Dad taking them on odd-numbered years. So, Dad would have them in 2019 and Mom in 2020.

According to the form, the child’s holiday schedule takes priority over the normal parenting schedule. For example, Dad may have the kids every weekend. However, if Christmas falls on Sunday, and it is Mom’s year according to the holiday schedule, then the kids go with Mom.

Scheduling Holidays in Your Parenting Plan Doesn’t Have to Be A Hassle

Do your homework when preparing your plans. If disagreements arise later, know that help is available from the courts if necessary.

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 Central Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

You Might Need an Emergency Child Custody Order

You Might Need an Emergency Child Custody Order

Ava loved the fact that her husband, Henri, was from France. She felt their son could benefit from being involved in more than one culture. However, her enthusiasm faded when Henri filed for divorce. She feared he would take their son to France where he might live beyond the control of California courts. Liam faced a problem a little closer to home. He learned that his wife was partying in clubs all night while their two-year-old daughter slept in the car. Liam has also noticed unexplained bruises on his little girl. Fearing for his daughter’s safety, he looked to the court system. Both Ava and Liam may need the same protection: an emergency child custody order.

Child Custody and the Divorce Process

Who gets the children is often a hot topic during a divorce. The hope is that parents will do what is best for their children, but this is not always the case.

During a divorce, parents work out a parenting plan, and custody is decided. If parents can’t agree, a judge will assign custody. Of course, negotiating a plan takes times. Sometimes one parent may have to move quickly to protect his or her children.

Grounds for Requesting an Emergency Child Custody Order

It can be difficult to get this kind of order. While California judges always focus on the best interests of the child, they also cannot hand out emergency orders for no reason.

The primary reason for requesting an emergency child custody order is:

“A situation has occurred, or may occur, where it is in the best interest of the child that the court make immediate orders.”

In Ava’s case, she needs to stop her husband from spiriting their son out of the country. Liam needs to stop his wife from neglecting or abusing their child. Neither situation can wait, so they ask for emergency child custody orders. The court may grant each a temporary order that takes effect immediately. However, the court will schedule a hearing before granting a more permanent order.

Call Immediately if You Need an Emergency Child Custody Order

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce proceedings, including ex parte hearings and emergency child custody orders.

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 Central California Coast.
The Impact of Extracurricular Activities on Visitation

The Impact of Extracurricular Activities on Visitation

Between Jiu-jitsu, football, and violin lessons, some parents may spend hours every week taking their children to extracurricular activities. The job is even more difficult for divorced parents who may struggle to meet the requirements of their parenting agreement. Parents may disagree on the scheduling of activities, the cost, or even just the type of activity. One parent may feel their child should be in a sports program, while the other leans toward robotics or coding. But how important are these activities? Will extracurricular activities affect visitation for children of divorced parents?

Extracurricular Activities Are Important

Little League, Girl Scouts, and chess club are fun activities that also provide some crucial benefits, including:

  • Better academic performance,
  • Higher self-esteem,
  • Improved social skills,
  • Goalsetting,
  • Teamwork,
  • Problem-solving and sharper analytical skills, and
  • More impressive college applications.

However, coordinating math club or gymnastics with an ex-spouse is sometimes not easy.

Time with Your Parents Is Important, Too

How will one parent feel when the other parent schedules an extracurricular activity during their visitation time? Typically, the parent who has custody of the child at the time takes the child to scheduled activities. Problems can arise, especially when ‘fun’ activities’ coincide with a parent’s work or activity schedule. Sometimes a parent feels the activity is not important in their child’s life.

Some of these difficulties can be ironed out in one important divorce document: the parenting plan.

Custody, Visitation, and Parenting Agreements

The type of custody arrangement reached in divorce affects school and extracurricular activities. In a California divorce, custody falls into several categories:

  • Physical Custody has to do with where the child lives. Joint physical custody means the child lives with both parents. However, sole or primary custody means that the child lives with one parent and visits the other parent.
  • Legal Custody relates to the important decisions that parents make for their children. Parents with joint legal custody share the right to make decisions about the children. However, a parent with sole legal custody handles decision-making on their own.

Does one parent have sole legal custody of the children? If so, that parent has the final say on extracurricular activities. However, the non-custodial parent can object or ask for changes to the parenting agreement or visitation schedule.

What Impact Extracurricular Activities Have on Visitation Depends

If parents amicably agree on the when and how of extracurriculars, they can avoid having a judge make decisions for them.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, child custody, and child visitation. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We maintain offices in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.

Settling School Issues with an Ex-Spouse

Settling School Issues with an Ex-Spouse

Getting the ‘right’ education can make a big difference in a person’s life. However, who decides what is ‘right’ for the children of divorced parents? It’s great when both parents are active in a child’s life, but how do you handle school issues with an ex-spouse who disagrees with your educational choices?

Look to Your Custody Agreement to Settle School Issues

In California divorces, parents must agree on a custody and visitation agreement before finalizing their divorce. When parents cannot agree, a judge will make the decisions for them. Either way, somewhere there is a document that addresses school issues, even if only to state which parent makes educational decisions for the children. Review your parenting plan for clues. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Who has physical custody of the children?
  • Who has legal custody of the children?
  • Is the custody sole or joint?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have a better idea of how to proceed.

Understand How Custody Works

Joint legal custody means that both parents have the right and responsibility to make certain important decisions for their children. This includes education. If you and your ex-spouse have joint legal custody, you’ll need to work out the school issues together. Sole legal custody means that one parent makes all the important decisions for the kids. If you have sole legal custody, you can handle educational matters by yourself. If your spouse has sole legal custody, he or she has the right to settle school issues. However, with either type of custody, one parent can ask for court intervention if necessary.

Get Help Communicating If Necessary

Your first inclination may be to ‘deny, deny, deny’ when your ex-spouse requests anything. But concerns about your children’s education should be considered carefully. In some cases, you may need help discussing school issues with your ex-spouse. Discuss the situation with your attorney. You may need to attend mediation or schedule a court hearing if you and your ex-spouse are unable to reach an agreement about your children’s education.

It IS Possible to Settle School Issues with an Ex-Spouse

It may be best for everyone if you and your ex-spouse work out any school issues that you have. Just keep the best interests of the children in mind. California courts certainly will. 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 Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.
How and When to Get an Ex Parte Order

How and When to Get an Ex Parte Order

After you file your divorce petition, it may take months to iron out all the details. In some cases, though, the person filing for divorce faces serious issues that cannot wait that long. For example, Sandy’s husband had a violent temper that caused him to lash out at their home and at her. Ben knew he was safe from his wife, Lori, but feared for their children. Finally, Maria’s husband hid their car from her, although she needed it to get to work. Fortunately, courts may provide emergency assistance for situations like these through ex parte orders.

How to Get an Ex Parte Order

The simple answer is that you file a motion with the court asking for the relief that you need as soon as possible. However, each county in California may have its own rules and procedures for obtaining an ex parte order. Failing to follow the rules may cause your motion to be denied. You may file a Temporary Emergency Orders (Ex Parte) (Form FL-305) to request certain temporary emergency court orders. While this form may be used throughout the state, you will need to check the rules for the county in which you file for additional information. Hearings often are heard within 24 hours of filing the request for an ex parte order, at which time a judge will hand down a ruling on your request for Temporary Emergency Orders.

When an Ex Parte Order Is Appropriate

Sometimes the filing spouse may need to get an issue before a judge as quickly as possible because an emergency exists. In fact, the filing party may request an ex parte action for one or more of the following reasons:
  • The spouse who filed the divorce case may be in danger.
  • A child involved in the divorce case may be in danger.
  • The filing party needs temporary use of a marital asset.
  • The filing spouse feels that his or her property might be destroyed or damaged by the responding spouse.
Talk to an attorney immediately if you feel an issue related to your divorce is an emergency.

It’s Complicated.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce proceedings, including ex parte orders. 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 Central California Coast.
4 Factors Considered During Child Custody Discussions

4 Factors Considered During Child Custody Discussions

When parents divorce, some of the most important decisions they face relate to their children. For example, Max and Becca didn’t disagree about much during the early stages of their divorce. However, both were a bit stymied when it came to the kids. They weren’t sure how to prepare a parenting plan that the judge would approve. Let’s look at four of the most important factors considered during child custody discussions.

Health & Safety of Child

Each parent generally is expected to play a role in the health and safety of the child. In fact, the judge may consider this a primary concern when reviewing a parenting plan or making custody decisions. One way to promote the health and safety of a child is to remember that children generally are more likely to thrive when parents:
  • Avoid physical violence toward each other or the child;
  • Agree on living arrangements and rules;
  • Provide a safe and appropriate environment for visiting with family and friends.
A parenting plan usually includes agreements on how to handle medical issues, including doctor visits, vaccinations, health insurance, and emergency medical treatments.

Relationship with Family

Another area of critical importance is the child’s relationship with his or her parents and extended family. A judge may scrutinize a parent’s interactions with the child before assigning joint legal custody, sole legal custody, joint physical custody, or sole physical custody. Judges generally like both parents to be involved in caring for a child. Signs of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence taint a child’s relationship with the abusing parent. California divorce courts put the child’s best interests before the parent’s need to be with their child.

Stability of Living Environments

While it’s important to consider how well a child and parent get along together, the living environment plays a big role in deciding custody:
  • A parent who allows unsafe or illegal activities in the home may receive limited custody and visitation.
  • Parents who move frequently and erratically may not be providing the best home environment.

Overall Best Interests of Child

California law requires a divorce court judge to make custody arrangements that are in the best interests of the child. During child custody discussions, courts may look at the big picture. For example, a child may love both parents, but the court grants sole custody to one parent or requires supervised visits with the other parent. This may occur because one parent has put the child at risk or ignored the child’s basic needs of health, safety, home, and family.

Make Your Child Custody Discussions Count

Start with retaining an attorney who understands complex child custody arrangements., as does Judy Burger who is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. To discuss how to handle property and divorce issues, please call us at 415-293-8314. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.