Category Archives: Domestic Violence

Your Top 10 FAQs Answered About Family Law in California

Your Top 10 FAQs Answered About Family Law in California

Family law deals with issues like divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, and property division. If you are going through a family law issue in California, you likely have many questions about the process and your rights. Certified Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger answers the top ten questions we’re asked at our California practice about Family Law matters.

Of course, we can only provide the barest facts in an article. More complete explanations and answers to other questions are available in a complimentary consultation. Contact The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger to schedule your consultation.

Top 10 Family Law FAQs

Review these common questions clients routinely ask Attorney Judy Burger during initial consultations at her offices.

1. What is the process for getting a divorce in California?

To get a divorce in California, you must file a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. You will need to serve your spouse with the petition and wait for their response. If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on all issues, such as child custody and property division, the court will schedule a trial to decide these issues for you.

2. How is child custody determined in California?

California courts determine child custody based on the best interests of the child. The court will consider factors such as the child’s age, health, and relationship with each parent. Generally, the court prefers frequent and continuous contact with both parents as long as it is in the child’s best interests.

3. How is child support determined in California?

California law provides guidelines for determining child support. The guidelines take into account the net disposable income of each parent and the amount of time each parent spends with the child. Other factors, such as the child’s needs and the standard of living before the divorce, may also be considered.

4. What is spousal support in California?

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is financial support paid from one spouse to the other after a divorce. Spousal support can be temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances of the case.

5. How is spousal support determined in California?

California law requires the court to consider various factors when determining spousal support, including the length of the marriage, the standard of living before the divorce, and the age and health of each spouse. The court has discretion in determining the amount and duration of spousal support.

6. How is property divided in a California divorce?

California is a community property state, which means that property acquired during the marriage is generally divided equally between the spouses. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and the court may consider factors such as the length of the marriage and the economic circumstances of each spouse.

7. Can I get a restraining order in a family law case?

Yes, if you are a victim of domestic violence or harassment, you can obtain a restraining order to protect yourself and your children. The court may issue a temporary restraining order, followed by a hearing to determine whether a permanent restraining order is necessary.

8. Can I modify a child custody or support order?

Yes, if there has been a significant change in circumstances, such as a job loss or relocation, you can petition the court to modify a child custody or support order. The court will consider the child’s best interests when deciding.

9. What is mediation in a family law case?

Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party helps the parties in a family law case reach a mutually acceptable agreement. It can be voluntary or court-ordered and can be a cost-effective alternative to litigation.

10. Do I need a lawyer for a family law case in California?

While you are not required to have a lawyer for a family law case in California, it is highly recommended. Family law cases can be complex and emotional, and having a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer can help protect your rights and interests.

Seasoned Family Law Representation in California

Family law issues in California can be challenging and emotional, but understanding your rights and the legal process can help alleviate some of the stress. If you have questions about a family law issue in California, contact The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, with eight offices across the state to serve you.

 

How Far Is Too Far When Considering a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

How Far Is Too Far When Considering a Domestic Violence Restraining Order?

A Domestic Violence Restraining Order provides significant legal protections for you and your children. These legal orders are specifically for people with whom you have had a close relationship, including family, in-laws, current or former dating partners, current or former spouses, and others.

Filing for a domestic violence restraining order against someone is a big step that should be considered carefully. It is often an emotional and traumatic time, and numerous factors and circumstances can cloud your thinking. How do you know when it’s time to obtain legal protection? Or, how far is too far when considering a domestic violence restraining order?

Defining Domestic Violence

The United States Department of Justice defines domestic violence as follows:

“Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, psychological, or technological actions or threats of actions or other patterns of coercive behavior that influence another person within an intimate partner relationship. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”

Accordingly, you should consider a domestic violence restraining order when you are subjected to behaviors that:

  • Intimidate
  • Manipulate
  • Humiliate
  • Isolate
  • Frighten
  • Terrorize
  • Coerce
  • Threaten
  • Blame
  • Hurt
  • Injure
  • Wound

Such behavior toward you or your children is sufficient grounds for filing to obtain an order of protection. However, keep in mind that the court will need proof that some sort of threatening behavior has affected or is likely to affect you and/or your children.

How Far Is Too Far?

Asking, “How far is too far?” or “How much should I put up with?” before considering a domestic violence restraining order is not necessarily the right question. When you or your child experience abuse or feel threatened, that is the time to act. Contact The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger for immediate assistance with obtaining a restraining order.

You can also get immediate assistance by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

How to File for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Certified CA Family Law Specialist Judy Burger can walk with you through the difficult circumstances that prompt filing for a domestic violence restraining order in California. She will help you construct the necessary petition to present to the court. Imagine drawing a blueprint for a court testimony – your petition should contain similar elements, including:

  1. Specific details of the threats or abuse to you or your child. Record all the dates, locations, and other facts you can remember.
  2. Evidence that backs up your petition, like emails, texts, pictures, social media posts, damaged property, or physical marks on your/your child’s body.
  3. Witness or expert statements that back your petition, like doctor’s notes, photos, witness testimonies, and more, in written or digital media.
  4. Ask for what kind of help you need. What do you need the order to accomplish? Stop the abuse, prohibit contact, protect your children, provide support, or other measures.

File the Petition

Turn in your request to the court. A judge may also grant you an ex parte (emergency) hearing and order of protection in certain circumstances.

Serve Notice

The party from whom you seek protection will be served an official notice of the pending court action and any ex parte orders against them.

Appear in Court

You and the other party appear in court to present your cases to a family law judge. He or she will issue orders accordingly.

Get Help from a Certified Family Law Specialist

Attorney Judy Burger can help you more in a confidential consultation. She knows how to take immediate steps to protect you and your privacy and can offer more guidance about what you should do next. Contact The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger at the location nearest you in North, Central, and Southern California to get the help you need to stop the abuse.

 

Penalties for False Child Abuse Allegations

Penalties for False Child Abuse Allegations

When child abuse allegations are made, it is crucial to take them seriously and investigate them thoroughly. The welfare of the child is paramount, and if the allegations are true, the offender should be held accountable. However, when false allegations are made, the consequences can be severe for everyone involved.

Certified Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger explains more about the potential penalties for false child abuse allegations in California to prevent false accusations and protect the rights of all parties involved.

False Allegations of Child Abuse in California

False allegations of child abuse are taken seriously in California. It is considered a form of child abuse and can result in serious consequences for the accuser. False allegations can be made intentionally or unintentionally, and they can be made for many reasons, including:

  • To gain an advantage in a child custody battle
  • To get revenge on a spouse or partner
  • To deflect attention away from the accuser’s own misconduct
  • To seek attention or sympathy from others

None of these reasons are sufficient grounds for these actions.

California Family Code Division 8, Chapter 1, Section 3027.5. Sexual abuse of child; report or treatment; limitations on custody or visitation, paragraph b states:

“The court may order supervised visitation or limit a parent’s custody or visitation if the court finds substantial evidence that the parent, with the intent to interfere with the other parent’s lawful contact with the child, made a report of child sexual abuse, during a child custody proceeding or at any other time, that the reporting parent knew was false at the time it was made. A limitation of custody or visitation, including an order for supervised visitation, pursuant to this subdivision, or a statute regarding the making of a false child abuse report, shall be imposed only after the court has determined that the limitation is necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the child. The court has considered the state’s policy of ensuring that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents as declared in subdivision (b) of Section 3020.”

Penalties for False Child Abuse Allegations in California

False allegations of child abuse can result in severe legal consequences for the accuser. The penalties in California include:

  1. Criminal Charges: Making false accusations of child abuse is a crime in California under State Penal Code § 11172. If found guilty, the accuser can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity. The penalties can include jail time and fines.
  2. Civil Penalties: False allegations of child abuse can also result in civil penalties. The accused can file a civil lawsuit against the accuser for defamation, emotional distress, and other damages. If found guilty, the accuser may have to pay substantial damages.
  3. Loss of Custody: False allegations of child abuse can also result in the loss of custody of the child. If the court determines that the allegations were made with the intent to harm or deceive, the accuser can lose custody of the child and may even have their parental rights terminated.
  4. Criminal Record: If the accuser is convicted of making false allegations of child abuse, they will have a criminal record. This can make it challenging to find employment and housing and can also impact their ability to obtain custody of their children in the future.

Protecting the Welfare of Children

It is crucial to protect the welfare of the child in all cases of child abuse, whether the allegations are true or false. False allegations can harm everyone involved, including the accused, the accuser, and the child. Investigating all allegations thoroughly and taking appropriate legal action, if necessary, is essential.

If you or someone you know is facing false allegations of child abuse, it is crucial to seek legal guidance from a Certified Family Law Specialist to protect your rights and your child’s welfare. Attorney Judy Burger can provide the guidance and support you need to navigate this challenging situation and protect your family’s best interests. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Can a Restraining Order in California Prevent Me From Getting a Job?

Can a Restraining Order in California Prevent Me From Getting a Job?

A restraining order is a legal order that prohibits a person from contacting or coming close to another person. In California, restraining orders can be obtained by individuals who have experienced domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or other forms of abuse. While a restraining order can provide much-needed protection, it can also have significant consequences.

Can a restraining order in California prevent me from getting a job? Certified Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger addresses this important question.

Restraining Orders and Employment Background Checks

Under the California Fair Chance Act of 2018 (recently modified), employers are prohibited from inquiring about criminal history information or disseminating it in any form or manner before making a conditional job offer, including through background checks, internet searches, or other means.

However, the California Fair Chance Act Overview FAQ states:

“After offering you a job, employers are allowed to conduct a criminal history check, but the law requires an individualized assessment about your conviction history. That means that an employer can’t take back the job offer without considering the nature and gravity of the criminal history, the time that has passed since the conviction, and the nature of the job you are seeking. If the employer decides to take back the job offer based on your criminal history, they must tell you so in writing, provide a copy of any conviction history report they relied on, and give you at least five business days to respond.”

When an employer conducts a background check and discovers that you have a restraining order against you, it can impact your ability to get a job. Potential employers may view these orders as a red flag, indicating that you may have a history of violence or harassment. As a result, the employer may choose not to hire you, even if you are otherwise qualified for the job.

It is worth noting that under California law, employers cannot discriminate against employees or job applicants based on their status as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. This means that an employer cannot refuse to hire you simply because you have an order of protection against someone else.

Types of Restraining Orders

In California, there are four types of restraining orders that a person can obtain:

  1. Domestic Violence 
  2. Civil Harassment 
  3. Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse 
  4. Workplace Violence 

Of these types of restraining orders, only a workplace violence restraining order is specifically related to employment. An employer obtains a workplace violence restraining order against an employee or former employee who has threatened violence or caused harm in the workplace. If an employer obtains a workplace violence restraining order against an employee, it can seriously impact the employee’s ability to find employment in the future.

What to Do If You Have a Restraining Order

If you have a restraining order against you in California, it is important to understand how it can impact your ability to get a job. While a restraining order may not prevent you from being hired in all cases, it can be a factor employers consider when hiring.

If you have a restraining order against you, it is important to be sure that a potential employer is following the law when considering you for employment. Be upfront with potential employers about your situation and seek legal advice if you believe you are unfairly discriminated against during the application or hiring process.

CA Family Law Attorney Judy L. Burger can explain more about restraining orders, how they work, what to do if you need one or have one, how to have one modified or removed, and more in a confidential consultation. Contact our office at one of the eight locations nearest you.

 

Emergency Child Custody Issues in California

Emergency Child Custody Issues in California

Petitions for changes in child custody agreements can be filed with the court when circumstances change and new arrangements are needed. These requests are scheduled for the next available hearing on the family court’s calendar. However, an ex parte petition can be filed immediately when you encounter emergency child custody issues in California

Under California law, Family Code 3064 allows the court to temporarily grant an emergency change in custody without waiting on a full hearing under certain circumstances. This is a short-term solution to protect the safety and welfare of the child while more permanent arrangements are examined. Ex parte orders can influence any final custodial orders issued by the court.

When would such actions be necessary? CA Certified Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger reviews some possible scenarios when emergency child custody issues can be handled through ex parte hearings. She can explain more and review your situation thoroughly in a confidential consultation at one of our offices.

What Justifies An Emergency Child Custody Petition?

California Family Courts typically allow at least a 15-day notice to involved parties before scheduling a hearing about child custody matters. However, when a true emergency threatens a child’s health and safety, the court can issue immediate orders to prevent harmful actions. Ex parte orders, sometimes called “emergency orders,” may be granted in select situations, including:

  • Child abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect
  • Domestic violence
  • A parent’s physical or mental health condition
  • A parent’s arrest for drug use, drunk driving, or another serious crime
  • A sex offender in the home

Your request for an emergency child custody order must include definite evidence that such conditions exist and are a direct threat to the child. Heresy or opinions are not sufficient grounds for the court to immediately remove a child from another parent’s custody. Credible witnesses, photos, videos, text messages, or police reports are solid proof that the child is in danger and emergency orders are necessary to protect the child’s interests.

How Do I Request an Emergency Child Custody Action in CA?

​In addition to demonstrating a clear and imminent danger to the child’s welfare, you must provide several other items of information in your ex parte petition. These include the following:

  • Legal request form
  • Identity and contact information for the other parent and/or their attorneys
  • Current child custody, visitation, and support orders
  • Any previous requests or orders on this or similar matters
  • Reasons why the other parent should not be notified

Remember, you must provide sufficient evidence demonstrating the harm that could be suffered without the requested emergency custody orders. This is also a temporary solution. A formal hearing with both parents may be scheduled for a later date and other orders may be issued as a result.

It is critical that you adhere to California law in all matters relating to your child and custody matters. Emotional reactions to protect your child that violate the law or existing custody orders can complicate your case. Making decisions under stress can place you on the wrong side of the law.

Contact a California Certified Family Law Specialist to Help You Protect Your Children

Consult with CA Family Law Attorney Judy L. Burger immediately if you suspect an emergency custody action is necessary. She can act quickly to file an ex parte hearing petition and the necessary paperwork while helping you gather the required evidence to support your request. As a Certified Family Law Specialist in California, she can help you follow the law and protect your child.

Ms. Burger is not intimidated by difficult or high-conflict custody matters. She firmly believes that children must be protected from abusive, inappropriate, or other dangerous behavior and actions by parents or others. The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger will not rest until your child is safe. We will also work with you to completely resolve this matter in the best interests of your child and family.

Contact one of our eight offices in California today to discuss emergency child custody issues with a Certified Family Law Specialist who is on your side.

Ex Parte Hearings and Emergency Orders in CA Family Court

Ex Parte Hearings and Emergency Orders in CA Family Court

Ex Parte Hearings are sometimes called “Emergency Hearings” because a court mostly hears them in emergency situations. California Family Court judges may issue legal orders as a result of these hearings to protect a child, prevent personal injuries, and for other time-sensitive matters.

California Family Law Attorney Judy L. Burger and her team can represent you and handle the intricate paperwork required for ex parte hearings. Learn more about these proceedings and when “emergency orders” may be warranted.

What Is an Ex Parte Hearing?

Ex Parte is Latin for “from one party.” This describes the request from a single party to communicate and present evidence to the court with little or no notice to other involved parties. Under California law, such hearings are allowed when significant harm is imminent and immediate measures are required to prevent it. This threat of harm may supersede the normal right of the other party to be present and hear the charges or allegations against them.

These hearings are not for simple or even heated arguments or disputes. A pattern of bickering or disagreements is not enough to request an ex parte hearing. There must be an imminent threat of harm where emergency action is required.

In such an emergency, the court may elect to hear the presentation and issue legally binding orders ex parte. This may be in the presence of both or only in the presence of a single party. If both parties are not present, these court orders are completely lawful and enforceable, just as if the opposing litigant were present.

When Would I Request an Ex Parte Hearing?

​An ex parte hearing in CA family court may be requested by anyone who believes there is an imminent reason for a court order and can provide sufficient proof for needing an emergency order. Common reasons to request an ex parte hearing include the following:

  • To Protect a Child: Ex parte emergency orders are typically granted when there are allegations of child abuse, neglect, a threat of abduction, or other similar reasons when a child would need legal protection from serious harm.
  • To Prevent Physical Harm: Ex parte orders can be granted to protect an adult from possible domestic violence or other causes of imminent and serious harm. Preventing a personal injury from a previously violent person is a justifiable cause for an ex parte emergency order of protection.
  • To Prevent Financial Harm: Ex parte orders can also be requested if significant financial harm is imminent, threatened, or otherwise could cause serious loss to the victims. An example would be when one party claims a spouse is willfully destroying joint-owned property or marital assets, leaving the first party without a means of support.

​The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger can help you obtain ex parte orders in family court when imminent danger or other pressing needs arise. Contact the office nearest you for more information and to schedule a consultation.

How Do I Request an Ex Parte Hearing in CA?

​Several legal forms are required for requesting an ex parte hearing in California family court. You must also provide evidence for your request that the court will hear before granting any requests. Following is some of the information required:

  • Formal request for a hearing
  • Identity and contact information for involved parties and/or their attorneys
  • Reasons for an ex parte hearing
  • Any previous requests or orders on this or related matters
  • Any existing child custody, support, and visitation orders
  • Any notice made to the other party of this action or reasons why the opposing party should not be notified

Applicants must provide a full and detailed description of recent incidents showing the threat of or actual harm to a child, other person, or property. The evidence must demonstrate the harm that could be suffered without the requested emergency orders in effect.

A family court may grant ex parte orders on the evidence of filed paperwork alone, or they may request some oral testimony or other evidence.

Get Help from a California Certified Family Law Specialist

Judy L. Burger is a CA Certified Family Law Specialist with extensive experience in ex parte hearings and related matters. She can explain more in a confidential consultation and take swift action to request such hearings when warranted. Contact the closest location of The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger when threatening domestic circumstances arise and you need advice and assistance.

California Assembly Passes Piqui’s Law

California Assembly Passes Piqui’s Law

In June 2022, California state Sen. Susan Rubio introduced a bill that would require training for judges on domestic violence and child abuse. In August, the bill, known as Piqui’s law, was passed by the state State Assembly in a unanimous, bipartisan vote. However, in September, Sen. Rubio rescinded the bill in the face of strong opposition from the Judicial Council of California. Here is more on the domestic violence and child abuse law that may be back in the near future. Continue reading

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.