Category Archives: Child Custody

In re Marriage of McHugh When Spousal Unemployment in a Divorce Is Not Accidental

In re Marriage of McHugh: When Spousal Unemployment in a Divorce Is Not Accidental

Under California family law, both parents are expected to be financially responsible for their children. One parent often pays child support to the parent with a more significant custodial role. Courts base child support awards partially on the paying parent’s income. But what happens when that parent no longer has a job or other source of income? Even worse, what if spousal unemployment was not an accident?

What Happened in In re: Marriage of McHugh?

Charles and Connie McHugh were married in 1992. Before their separation in September 2009, they had one child. Charles filed for divorce, then Connie immediately asked the court to grant temporary child and spousal support. The court based the award amount on Charles’s monthly income of $24,149. He was a salesman for Amcor Packaging Distribution (Amcor), while Connie was a stay-at-home mom.

A few short months later, Charles asked the court to reduce his spousal and child support payments. He claimed “drastic income reduction” because he had lost his largest client at Amcor. The judge lowered his support payment.

In August 2011, Connie asked the court to set aside the order. Charles simultaneously asked the court for relief. Specifically, he wanted a further reduction of support payments. This time, Charles claimed he has been fired from Amcor and was earning less from his new job.

After various hearings and appeals, the court learned that Amcor fired Charles for various serious misdeeds. However, Amcor would have retained him if he had admitted his wrongdoing and paid restitution. Charles refused. This refusal made spousal unemployment deliberate, not accidental.

The case eventually landed in the California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 3. The court ruled on several issues, including the trial court’s imputing income to Charles when establishing support payments.

The Consequences of Intentional Spousal Unemployment

One or both spouses sometimes try to hide income and assets from the other spouse during a pending divorce action. Some even quit their jobs, leaving their children and spouse without financial support.

As in the McHugh’s case, courts can base support payments on the paying party’s past income. This often is the result of deliberate spousal unemployment. Charles McHugh had made several statements to Amcor that he was trying to hide money and reduce his income because of an impending divorce. He then did not make all efforts to keep the job that he had while married to Connie.

In cases of intentional spousal unemployment, one party chooses not to work to their full potential. But they may find themselves on the losing end of the argument before an unsympathetic judge.

Deliberate Spousal Unemployment to Reduce Support Payments Is Wrong

Courts do not award child support and spousal support on a whim. But support calculations are thrown off when one person decides not to pay their fair share. If you feel that your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is choosing spousal unemployment over support, please call a divorce attorney as soon as possible.

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, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.
What Acclaimed TV Show Frasier Got Right About Child Custody

What Acclaimed TV Show Frasier Got Right About Child Custody

Frasier delighted its fans during its 1993 to 2004 run. This Seattle-based show followed the antics of a radio psychiatrist and his friends and family. In addition to his father and brother, Frasier had to forge and maintain relationships with his ex-wife, Lilith, and his young son, Frederick. But Lilith and Frederick lived across the country in Boston. Their living arrangements presented some problems with child custody and visitation. While the show presented these issues in a humane yet humorous way, there are some significant lessons to take away.

On with the show.

Long-Distance Parenting Done Right

As mentioned above, Frasier and Lilith put an entire continent between them after their divorce, which was probably a good idea. However, this child custody arrangement would have made parenting difficult for Frasier. Trying to build bonds with your child when you’re not near them is hard.

However, Frasier tried. Several episodes mention his trips back to Boston to visit Frederick, and he brings Frederick to Seattle as often as possible. None of this would have happened if Frasier and Lilith had been unable to put aside their differences to communicate about their son. Despite the continuing tension between Frasier and Lilith, they seemed always to try to put Frederick’s best interests first.

Frasier and Lilith seem to talk frequently about Frederick. In fact, it seems to be two-way communication initiated by both parents. Frasier checks in with Lilith, while Lilith often shares Frederick’s triumphs and problems with Frasier. 

Making Educational Decisions Together

During one Thanksgiving episode, Frasier upends his holiday plans to further Frederick’s education. Frasier and family move their holiday celebration to Boston because Lilith has scheduled an interview with an exclusive private school. Frasier and Lilith gripe at each other several times but manage to pull it together for their son.

Many parents disagree about their children’s education. Such issues definitely can complicate parent-child relationships, as well as child custody and visitation. Despite their apparent differences and lingering tension, Frasier and Lilith managed to get it right.

Thoughtful and Flexible Visitation, Despite Child Custody Arrangements

Visitation schedules are a big part of the parenting plan that divorced couples work out. It’s common for parents to alternate holidays and also schedule visits during the week. Child custody plays a part since one parent might have sole physical custody. Even with a parenting plan, divorced parents sometimes find holidays difficult to navigate.

Because Frasier lives across the country, weekly visits were not typical. However, several episodes revolve around Frederick visiting Frasier on special occasions.

One example is the Christmas episode “Miracle on 3rd or 4th Street.” Frederick is expected to visit Frasier in Seattle for the first time. However, Lilith decides to take Frederick to Austria with family friends. Despite Frasier’s intense disappointment, he gives up his right to have Christmas with Frederick and agrees to let him go. Some parents might have insisted on their visitation rights, whatever the cost to their child.

Other episodes show Frasier and Lilith negotiating and compromising on visitation plans. While it appears that child custody decisions might be solely Lilith’s, she also attempts to accommodate Frasier’s needs.

Putting the Child’s Best Interests First in Child Custody Decisions

There is one aspect of Frasier and Lilith’s parenting that, while funny, is not advisable. The show hints that Lilith makes negative comments about Frasier to Frederick. Sometimes, they openly make derogatory remarks in front of or to their son. This type of behavior is never a good idea, and two highly-educated psychiatrists should have known better.

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, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.
7 Factors Judges Consider When Deciding Who Gets the Kids

7 Factors Judges Consider When Deciding Who Gets the Kids

Deciding who gets the kids in a child custody battle is no easy feat. Judges don’t simply toss a coin or render arbitrary decisions. In fact, California law requires judges to make decisions that are in the child’s best interests based on certain factors. Let’s look at some of the things family court judges consider before finalizing custody arrangements.

But, first, let’s look at the types of custody available:

  • Legal custody – A parent with legal custody of a child makes important decisions about their “health, education, and welfare.”
  • Physical custody – Children live with or spend more time with a parent who has physical custody.

Either type of custody can be joint (shared by both parents) or sole (held by one parent). For example, a couple could have joint legal custody while only one parent has physical custody. This means that the child might live with one parent most of the time, but both parents share in decision-making.

#1.  The Kid’s Age and Maturity Matter

Judges will note a child’s age before granting custody. Staying with one parent over another might make more sense at certain stages of a child’s growth.

In the past, something called the “tender years doctrine” applied, which meant that mothers were almost always awarded custody of very young children. Under California law, judges are not to consider gender when deciding who gets the kids, no matter how old they are.

#2.  Judges Consider the Children’s Health

Some children might have special needs or serious medical conditions. Judges generally consider which parent is best able to care for the child in situations like this. For example, a father might have physical custody because the mom travels extensively for her job.

#3.  Bonds with Each Parent Play a Part in Who Gets the Kids

Ideally, both parents will bond well with their children. Realistically, children might form a stronger relationship with one parent. If so, breaking that bond could be detrimental to the child or not in the child’s best interests. Judges might consider evidence that a child is closer to one parent before awarding custody.

#4.  Judges Consider Each Person’s Parenting Abilities

Parents often vary significantly in their ability to handle raising children. After all, it can be one of the most stressful (and also joyful) life experiences. Family court judges tasked with deciding custody might look for evidence that one parent is more suitable than the other.

#5.  Acts of Domestic Violence Necessarily Sway a Judge’s Decision

As mentioned above, California family court judges make decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests. When domestic violence is present, children are at risk even if they are not physically injured. In these situations, judges consider their options very seriously before deciding who gets the kids.

#6.  Alcohol and Substance Abuse Matter Also When Deciding Who Gets the Kids

Domestic violence often goes hand-in-hand with alcohol and substance abuse. Here, again, children are at risk when parents suffer from addictions. Getting help is essential, but judges have to consider the risk when assigning custody.

#7. Finally, Judges Consider the Child’s Ties to Home, School, and Community

Divorce is hard enough on children. But the risks of emotional damage become even more harmful when kids are forced to leave their friends, schools, extracurricular activities, and religious institutions. Family court judges consider these issues carefully, along with the others mentioned above, before making custody decisions.

About the Author

Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. She is a passionate advocate for her clients and is known for her aggressive, “outside of the box” representation.

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, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

Why Is a Divorce with Children Usually More Expensive

Why Is a Divorce with Children Usually More Expensive?

Divorce can be an expensive but necessary process. But the average divorce with children invariably costs more than the average divorce of a childless couple. In this article, we will take a closer look at why the costs increase when kids are involved.

Some Issues in a Divorce with Children Can Be Challenging to Resolve

Decisions surrounding child custody and child support are often hotly contested. Demands might be made based on emotions and not reality, as parents use children as pawns against each other. Unfortunately, fighting over children is not likely to end well for anyone.

Divorce typically involves negotiation. A divorce with children usually requires more negotiation than one without. Compromising might be necessary, as long as the compromise is safe for the kids. Refusing to yield even a little prevents the parties from finalizing their divorce. It also usually increases legal fees.

In some cases, the parties will use a family law mediator to help negotiate resolutions. This step also increases the cost of a divorce with children but could remove roadblocks that prevent the parents from moving on.

When Couples Can’t Agree, Trials Often Follow

And trials are expensive. Both parties will incur additional legal fees because their case now could include additional discovery, hearings, and depositions. They might need to hire expert witnesses to provide testimony at trials. Inevitably, legal fees generally increase as attorneys spend days and weeks preparing for trial.

To avoid trial, couples can work closely with their attorneys to prepare a parenting plan. In fact, family court judges will not finalize a divorce with children without one. The parenting plan is also called a custody and visitation agreement or “time-share plan.” In a divorce with children, it’s critical for parents to work out this agreement as amicably as possible to avoid collateral damage to themselves and their children.

You Need Good Legal Representation

As mentioned above, a contested divorce with children requires a great deal more work from your attorney. This is especially true if your case proceeds to trial. Adding an experienced California divorce attorney to your team might be expensive. However, it’s crucial to work with an attorney who can protect your rights and your children’s.

Trust Us to Handle Your Divorce with Children

Contested divorces will always be more expensive to resolve than uncontested ones. Talk to an experienced California divorce attorney today about your divorce with children. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

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, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.
Do Movies About Divorce Get It Rightt

Do Movies About Divorce Get It Right?

Be aware that there are spoilers ahead if you have never seen the movies about divorce discussed in this article.

Mrs. Doubtfire – Stability Trumps Whimsy When It Comes to Child Custody and Visitation

This 1993 film starring the late Robin Williams focused on divorce, child custody, and visitation in a poignant yet comical way. As Daniel and Miranda Hillard’s marriage ended, Daniel’s whimsical behavior made him look like an unfit parent. He and his children had a great relationship, but the court granted custody to Miranda. After all, she had a good job and a stable home environment. The court also insisted Daniel clean up his act and limited his access to the kids.

Daniel’s response was to transform himself into an older female character – Mrs. Doubtfire – and get hired to be his own children’s nanny. He and the children became closer until his scheme fell apart, making him look even more unstable. Unlike many movies about divorce, this film ends on a high note. But did the movie makers get it right?

Child custody and visitation are significant points. It seemed the court tried to make decisions that were in the children’s best interests at all times. A stable home life is essential, and Daniel, at first, did not offer this. It made sense to give Miranda full custody and to limit Daniel’s visits. So, it appears that the court did get it right

However, the court may not have considered the children’s feelings on this matter. Although children are not always the best judge of character, Daniel’s kids were close to him and needed to see him. Daniel and Miranda worked out a compromise on visitation that the judge probably would have been approved if included in a California parenting plan.

Kramer vs. Kramer – When Home Away from Home Isn’t Home

This 1979 legal drama is about Ted and Joanna Kramer and their son, Billy. Joanna deserts Billy, leaving him Ted. Unfortunately, she had been Billy’s primary caregiver because of Ted’s high-stress, time-consumer job.

After being gone for more than a year, Joanna returns to divorce Ted and claim custody of Billy., despite Joanna’s abandonment, she won custody of her son.

Joanna prepares an apartment for Billy and then tearfully confesses to Ted that Billy’s true home is with Ted. We don’t see any courtroom scenes as the movie ends soon after, so it’s unsure whether Joanna officially yielded custody or not.

Courts in the 1970s still tended to favor mothers over fathers when it came to custody battles. Movies about divorce did, too. The court here seemed to ignore Joanna’s abandonment and Ted’s stepping up to be a good father to Billy. This may be partly due to something called the “tender years doctrine” that presumed moms should have custody of very young children.

In a California divorce, the courts make custody decisions based on many factors, including what is in the child’s best interests. Abandonment is a serious concern, especially when the child’s other parent is not unfit. A California judge faced with this situation today might have granted sole physical and legal custody to Ted. However, both parents may negotiate a parenting plan and present it to the court for approval.

The War of the Roses – Property Division Can Be a Thorny Issue

This dark comedy shares the story of Oliver and Barbara Rose. During their marriage, they had two children and became very wealthy due to Oliver’s legal career. Finally, though, Barbara confesses she no longer loves Oliver, and they decide to divorce.

The real problems begin when they start splitting up their property. The mansion that Barbara had found and filled with expensive possession became the main point of contention. Barbara kicks Oliver out of the house. Despite his attorney’s advice to compromise, Oliver returns to the home. As their conflict spirals out of control, the couple begins destroying their home, its contents, and eventually each other.

As movies about divorce go, this one captures how personal property division can become to divorcing couples. Sometimes it’s not about the actual property. Instead, personal feelings can get in the way, preventing much-needed compromise.

The best way Oliver and Barbara could have prevented the loss of property and life here would have been to heed the advice of their divorce attorney. Since California is a community property estate, shared assets and debts are split 50-50 with a few exceptions. Attorneys with property division experience could have used California law to help the Roses categorize their property and then amicably divide it.

Movies About Divorce Don’t Always Get It Right. Talk to a California Divorce Attorney About Your Divorce.

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, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

Is Parental Kidnapping Really a Crime

Is Parental Kidnapping Really a Crime?

After eight years of marriage and the birth of one child, Tina and Derek decided to call it quits. Their divorce became contentious as both parents wanted custody of their child, Alex. Unable to agree on custody and visitation, they presented their cases to a judge, who granted Derek sole legal and physical custody and approved a visitation plan. After a weekend visit, Tina refused to return Alex to Derek. Has Tina committed a crime? Since Alex is her child, is she committing parental kidnapping by refusing to return him to his legal custodian?

Child Custody Arrangements

Parental kidnapping cases usually occur because of custody disputes. Maybe one spouse objects to the judge’s decision to grant custody to the other parent. Often, parental abduction cases stem more from power struggles than keeping children safe from an unfit parent. In our example above, the custody order left Tina feeling powerless. Tina indeed loves her son, but she is also trying to use him as leverage to get more spousal support and joint custody.

There are legal ways to resolve custody disputes without having to resort to kidnapping. Your divorce attorney can explain your options. For example, you may have evidence that your co-parent is unfit that the court never heard. Your attorney might present that evidence to the court and ask that your custody agreement be modified.

But parental kidnapping is the wrong way to handle a disagreement over custody.

What Qualifies as Parental Kidnapping

According to California Penal Code, someone who does not have the right to custody commits a crime by maliciously taking, enticing, keeping, withholding, or concealing a child from his or her lawful custodian.

This is precisely what Tina did –withheld her son from his legal guardian. The judge’s custody order was clear and unambiguous. By ignoring the order, she is committing a crime that is punishable by:

  • Up to one year in a county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both; or
  • Imprisonment for two to four years, a fine up to $10,000.00, or both.

Unless your child is in clear and immediate danger, it is better to work through the legal system to resolve custody disagreements.

What Isn’t Parental Abduction?

Unusual situations can arise when parents and children are involved. For example, the mother automatically has custody (at least initially) if the parents of a child are not married. Generally, this is true even if the parents were living together with the child.

So, if Tina and Derek were not married at the time of their breakup, Tina would have immediate custody of Alex. If Derek removed Alex from home without her permission or refused to return him, then Derek would have committed child abduction. Derek could get an attorney to help him exercise custody and visitation rights instead of just taking Alex.

Also, if a married couple is still together, and a judge has not signed a custody order, then both parents have custody. If Derek takes Alex on a fishing trip against Tina’s wishes, it is not parental abduction because Derek has the same parental rights to Alex as Tina does.

What Can You Do About Parental Kidnapping?

Maybe you are still married but worry about your spouse taking your children away. Talk to an attorney immediately. But if you or your children are in immediate danger, call 911 first.

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, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

What Are Ex Parte Hearings and How Do They Work

What Are Ex Parte Hearings and How Do They Work?

From the time a California divorce is filed until it is settled can take time.  But the parties sometimes require action from the court that just can’t wait. For example, ex parte hearings address emergency matters that need to be heard as soon as possible.

Ex Parte Hearings in a California Divorce

One or more parties may apply for emergency orders in family law cases.  

Courts might hold ex parte hearings for the following reasons:

  • Preventing danger or harm to another party or any children involved in the divorce.
  • Preventing immediate loss or damage to property.
  • Setting a hearing for a time that’s shorter than normal.
  • Shortening or extending the service time for notices of hearing and other court papers.
  • Rescheduling a hearing or trial.

Your attorney will know when ex parte hearings are needed and how to get them.

Applying for Ex Parte Decisions

Not every situation requires an expedited or emergency hearing. However, your attorney can ask for an ex parte hearing for the following basic reasons:

  • Request for an emergency order.
  • Ask to reschedule a hearing or trial.

Generally, applications must contain the following information:

  • Contact information for any attorneys involved in the case or the contact information for any party that does not have an attorney if known.
  • Declarations about facts supporting the request.
  • Lists of previous orders or applications made about the same issue.
  • A disclosure of any changes to the party’s status quo resulting from the order.
  • Specific information about child custody or visitation issues.

The law requires that most parties who request ex parte hearings usually must notify the other parties involved.

The declaration also contains details about how the filing party served the other party. If it was impossible to serve the notice, provide information about all attempts to serve. And finally, the person applying for an ex parte hearing can state any reasons that the notice of hearing should not be served.

We Can Discuss Ex Parte Hearings with You.

As our attorneys work on your case, they will identify any areas that might need emergency orders.

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, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

 

My Parenting Plan Isn’t Working. Can I Change It

My Parenting Plan Isn’t Working. Can I Change It?

Divorced parents still have a strong connection – through their children. In the midst of making decisions about schooling, vacations, and health care, moms and dads have to stick to their parenting plan. But what if that parenting plan isn’t working anymore?

Why Plans Come Unstuck

People’s lives change over time. Your divorce is living proof of this.

Adults may change jobs, buy or sell homes, and learn more about their likes and dislikes. Friends and family members may move or even pass away. Many people face these changes and just adjust their lives accordingly.

As children grow, they also experience changes in activities, friends, and more. Parents might find that a visitation schedule no longer fits their children’s current list of activities – which, frankly, may change again in a year or so, depending on the kids’ ages.

Sometimes sticking to the parenting plan you negotiated during your divorce seems like trying to stuff a square peg into a round hole. If that’s the case, it may be time to make some adjustments. And there are ways to do just that.

And How to Fix a Parenting Plan That Isn’t Working

Before your divorce could be finalized, you and your co-parent had to negotiate and finalize your parenting plan. Thinking back on what your parenting plan includes can help you figure out if it’s time to alter it. That’s because parenting plans can be very specific or just have general guidelines.

First, review your plan to refresh your memory. If you and your ex-spouse are amicable, at least when it comes to your children, you may have inadvertently done things that are not spelled out in your plan. For example, you may have changed your spouse’s mid-week visitation day from Wednesday to Tuesday because little Johnny has soccer practice on Wednesday.

While it’s great to agree on alterations amicably, you must get the modifications in writing and file with the Court in order for it to become a Court order. It’s important to be clear about both parent’s obligations and responsibilities.

If changes are needed, talk to your divorce lawyer first. Your options for fixing your parenting plan include:

  • Negotiating a new agreement,
  • Meeting with a family mediator if you and your co-parent can’t agree on modifications, and
  • Asking a court to approve or order changes to the plan.

There’s no need to stick with a parenting plan that doesn’t fit anymore. Parenting plans are intended to help you help your kids, so consider fixing issues as they arise.

You Have Options When a Parenting Plan Isn’t Working.

Instead of increasing your stress levels—and, more importantly, your children’s – talk to an experienced California divorce attorney about making your plan work again.

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, Marin, San Jose, 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.

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.