Category Archives: Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence and Your Divorce

Domestic Violence and Your Divorce

Are you the victim of domestic violence? Have you ever – or do you now – have reason to fear your spouse? If so, you are not alone. In fact, there are more than 100,000 domestic violence-related calls to law enforcement every year. In this blog, we will touch on some of the issues where domestic violence and your divorce intersect.

Acts of Domestic Violence

When we think of this, we often think of physical damage one spouse inflicts on another. However, the law defines domestic abuse as:

  • Physically hurting or trying to hurt someone, intentionally or recklessly;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Making someone reasonably afraid that they or someone else are about to be seriously hurt; OR
  • Harassing, stalking, threatening, or hitting someone; disturbing someone’s peace; or destroying someone’s personal property.

Domestic violence in a marriage also affects the dissolution of that marriage.

Domestic Violence Affects Child Custody Arrangements

When children are involved, the focus in a California divorce is on doing what is in the best interests of the children.

Judges always take domestic violence into account when deciding child custody arrangements. The safety of the child and other family members is critical. Courts will review evidence that backs up domestic violence accusations.

If allegations of domestic violence arise in a divorce matter, the court will assume that the abusing parent should not have custody. This is called a “rebuttable presumption” because the accused party can present evidence overcoming the assumption they are not qualified to care for the children.

Visitation may also come into play when domestic violence is an issue. Protective orders and restraining orders may be necessary. In some cases, the court may allow only supervised visitation to ensure the children’s safety.

Domestic Violence May Affect Your Spousal Support and Property Division

This issue is a little more of a gray area. The problem is that either party could have committed the acts of domestic violence. Sometimes both parties have crossed that line.

The court examines allegations of domestic violence. Criminal convictions of domestic violence set up a rebuttal presumption situation. Generally, unless proven otherwise, the injured spouse is not required to pay spousal support to the convicted spouse. The convicted spouse has the opportunity to successfully rebut the conviction and change the judge’s mind.

However, allegations and convictions of domestic violence are taken seriously by the courts. They may have a profound effect on your divorce – you may become ineligible to receive support if you have committed violent acts.

In addition, the courts may give up to 100% of the community property interests in retirement and pension benefits to an injured spouse. Here again, the court will consider other factors before making a decision.

Final Thoughts

Domestic violence has a huge impact on a couple’s relationship. It’s only natural that it would also affect their divorce.

To discuss how to handle domestic violence and your divorce, 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.

If you or your children are in danger, call 911. You may also find local domestic violence organizations here or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Dealing with Harassment During Divorce

Dealing with Harassment During Divorce

Harassment can take many forms. During an emotional time, such as a divorce, power struggles and frustration can lead to disturbing behavior from your spouse. Though it may seem like just one more hurdle to overcome, there are ways of dealing with harassment during your divorce.

What Behavior Rises to the Level of Harassment?

California Code of Civil Procedure 527.6 defines harassment as “unlawful violence, a credible threat of violence, or a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person …”

That may sound vague, but the Code also defines “course of conduct” by listing the following behaviors:

  • Following or stalking an individual
  • Making harassing telephone calls to an individual
  • Sending harassing correspondence to an individual by any means, including, but not limited to, the use of public or private mails, interoffice mail, facsimile, or email.

If someone is threatening you, make sure you are in a safe place. Then, seek court intervention.

What Kind of Order Might Help?

A restraining order is often used to curb such harassing behavior. There are four types of restraining orders:

  1. Domestic violence;
  2. Civil harassment;
  3. Elder abuse; and
  4. Workplace violence.

Also, protective orders may be temporary (usually for 20-25 days), permanent (lasting for up to 5 years), or criminal (if the harasser is charged with a crime, for 3 years after the case is over).

When harassment is done by a spouse, ex-spouse, registered domestic partner, someone you formerly dated or lived with as more than roommates, or a close relative, you may ask for a domestic violence restraining order.

However, when harassment does not meet the criteria for domestic violence, a civil harassment restraining order can be used to stop the abuse.

What Can a Restraining Order Do?

First, it’s important to understand the people involved in the restraining order, also called a protective order. The person asking for the order is the “protected person.” Often, other people are included as protected persons, including family members or others living with a protected person. The person who is accused of harassment is the “restrained person.”

A protective order may seek to stop specific behaviors, like stalking, hitting, or destroying personal property. In addition, some orders require the restrained person to stay a certain distance away from the protected persons. For example, a spouse may be told to stop emailing their spouse during a divorce and to stay at least 100 yards away from the children’s school.

When a restrained person violates a protective order, consequences include paying a fine, going to jail, or both.

Take Care of You.

If you are being harassed, abused, or threatened, help is available:

  • Ask trusted friends and family members to help.
  • Contact your local domestic violence shelter.
  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233).
  • Call 911 if you or a loved one is in immediate danger.

You Don’t Have to Do This Alone.

Divorces are hard on everyone involved. We’re here to help. 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 Cost, including San Francisco, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

How Do Domestic Violence Restraining Orders Work in California?

How Do Domestic Violence Restraining Orders Work in California?

A domestic violence restraining order is a civil order entered by the court directing an abuser to stop harassing or abusing the victim. The type of abuse that may be the basis for the entry of a restraining order includes the following:

  • causing or attempting to cause the victim physical injury;
  • making the victim fear he or she or another person is in immediate danger of being harmed;
  • threatening or harassing the victim, in person or through other means;
  • stalking the victim;
  • destroying the victim’s personal property; or
  • disturbing the peace of the victim.

For the court to enter a domestic violence restraining order, the abuser must be related to the victim in one of the following ways:

  • a spouse or former spouse;
  • a person the victim is dating or has dated;
  • a lover;
  • the other parent of your child;
  • anyone closely related to the victim by blood, marriage, or adoption; or
  • a person who regularly lives in the victim’s home.

A domestic violence restraining order may provide protection for the victim’s children as well as the victim. Such a restraining order can also include other orders besides a command to stop the abuse. For example, a domestic violence restraining order may include an order regarding spousal support, custody, child support, or parenting time; granting the victim possession of a pet; removing the abuser from a home shared with the victim; or prohibiting the abuser from possessing a firearm.

A victim seeking a domestic violence restraining order must file an application with the court. The application includes a Domestic Violence Date of Birth Verification (Form FL/E-LP-640), a Notice of Court Hearing (Form DV 109), a Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order (Form DV-100 and FL/E-LP-613), a Description of Abuse (Form DV-101), and a Temporary Restraining Order (DV-110). Additional forms must be filed if the victim is also seeking an order regarding spousal support, child support, child custody, or visitation.

If the victim is in immediate danger, the court may issue a temporary restraining order after processing the application but before holding a hearing. Regardless, the court will set a hearing, and the victim must have the abuser served with the Notice of Hearing. Service of the Notice of Hearing is usually done through the sheriff’s department of the county where the abuser lives.

The victim may bring a support person to the restraining order hearing, even if the victim also has an attorney. If evidence at the hearing shows the existence of past or present abuse of the victim by the abuser, then the court will issue a domestic violence restraining order. A domestic violence restraining order can last up to five years but lasts only three years if no termination date is stated. During the last three months of a restraining order, the victim can ask the court to extend the restraining order for another five years or permanently.

If you or a loved one has been or is a victim of abuse, consult an experienced attorney experienced in domestic violence law to help you get a domestic violence restraining order. The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger can help you get the protection you need. Call today to see how we can help you: (415) 293-8314.

Different Types of Restraining Orders in California Family Law Cases

Different Types of Restraining Orders in California Family Law Cases

An important tool to help a victim of threatened or actual domestic violence is an order of protection from the court. This civil court order, called a restraining or protective order, commands the abuser to stop the abuse or suffer punishment by the court. The type of restraining order entered depends on the process used to get the restraining order.

The restraining order entered in emergency situations is called an emergency protective order. A situation is considered to be an emergency when a police officer responds to a domestic violence call or when someone has made a report of abuse to the police. In such cases, the police can request an emergency protective order under California Family Code § 6250. The court can enter an emergency protective order without first holding a hearing, but this type of protective order is only good for seven days.

If a victim needs a protective order for a longer period of time, or if the victim wants to apply for the restraining order without police involvement, he or she may apply to the court for a domestic violence restraining order. Abuse is considered to be domestic violence if the abuser is related to the victim as a spouse or former spouse; a person the victim is dating or has dated; a lover; the other parent of the victim’s child; anyone related to the victim by blood, marriage, or adoption; or a person who regularly lives in the victim’s home.

However, before entering a permanent domestic violence restraining order, the court must hold a hearing, and the abuser must have notice of the hearing. If, after a hearing, the court enters a domestic violence restraining order, that order may specify what the abuser can and cannot do to the victim or how near to the victim the abuser can be. Such an order may also include orders regarding child support, visitation, and custody orders if the victim and the abuser have children together; orders regarding possession of a shared residence or pet; orders for spousal support; or an order prohibiting the abuser from possessing a firearm. A domestic restraining order may be entered regardless of whether the court has previously issued an emergency protective order regarding the parties. A domestic violence restraining order can last up to five years.

If you are in immediate danger, the court may issue a temporary restraining order after processing the application but before a hearing.

If you or a family member has been a victim of domestic violence, seek help from a qualified family law attorney. The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced in helping victims of domestic violence get the protection they need. Call today to see how we can help you: (415) 293-8314.

How Does a Finding of Domestic Violence of a Parent Affect Child Custody Orders?

How Does a Finding of Domestic Violence of a Parent Affect Child Custody Orders?

Nothing affects children like domestic violence. Recognizing this, California courts are empowered to deal harshly with the custody and visitation rights of those found to have committed domestic violence. Before a parent’s rights may be impacted, however, certain requirements must be met.

Domestic violence is defined to include causing or attempting to cause bodily injury or sexual assault, placing someone “in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or another,” as well as “threatening, striking, harassing, destroying personal property or disturbing the peace of another.” Domestic violence is not limited to physical conduct but includes oral or written conduct that otherwise fits the definition of the law.

The first requirement of the law is that there must be a court finding of domestic violence in the last five years. This requirement can be met in two ways:

  • The person has been convicted of domestic violence or abuse, as defined in specific California laws; or
  • Any court has made a finding that the person committed domestic violence.
The requisite finding cannot be based solely on either a child custody evaluator’s conclusions or a Family Court Services staff member’s recommendation. Rather, the court must consider “any relevant, admissible evidence submitted by the parties” in making its finding.

After the first requirement is met, “there is a rebuttable presumption that an award of . . . custody [to that person] . . . is detrimental to the best interest of the child.” This means that the parent who committed domestic violence has an extra heavy burden before custody of any type may be awarded to him. The law directs that the court must consider several factors in determining whether this burden is met:

Whether the parent against whom the finding was met has showed that it is in the child’s best interest for him to receive some form of custody;

  • Whether the perpetrator completed any court-ordered batterer’s treatment program, alcohol or drug abuse counseling, or parenting class;
  • Whether the perpetrator has complied with the terms of his probation or parole, if applicable;
  • Whether the perpetrator’s conduct is governed by a protective or restraining order and, if so, whether he has complied with its terms; and
  • Whether the perpetrator has committed further acts of domestic violence.
The health and well-being of your children are of paramount importance to the State of California. If domestic violence is an issue in your family, you need an attorney to fight for you and your children. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in divorce, child custody, and child support matters. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can protect you and your children: (415) 293-8314.

Best Interest of the Children: What Does It Mean for California Families?

Best Interest of the Children: What Does It Mean for California Families?
California courts often cite to the “best interest of the children” standard when making rulings and issuing decisions on family law matters.  Where does this language come from, and what does it mean for you?


California laws, in many places, refer to the “best interest of the children” or “best interest of the child.” The core statute on what this means is California Family Code § 3011, which is a general provision of law relating to custody.


Section 3011 lists several factors that courts must consider when determining what is in the best interest of children:

  • The child’s “health, safety, and welfare”;
  • Any history of abuse against a child, the other parent, or a parent’s significant other;
  • The nature and amount of the child’s contact with both parents; and
  • Either parent’s use of illegal, controlled substances, or habitual use of alcohol or prescribed controlled substances.

The “best interest of the child” standard applies to many types of proceedings:

  • Divorce;
  • Annulment;
  • Legal separation;
  • Actions for exclusive custody;
  • Custody or visitation actions under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act;
  • Custody or visitation actions under the Uniform Parentage Act; and
  • Custody or visitation actions under brought by a California district attorney.

The “best interest of the child” standard is also at play in related proceedings, such as child custody evaluations and parenting plans.


The California Legislature’s widespread application of the “the best interest of the child” standard shows its commitment to the health and well-being of children. In hotly contested child support matters, you need an attorney to fight for you and your child. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in divorce, child custody, and child support matters. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can protect you and your children: (415) 293-8314.

How Do California Courts Decide Mutual Restraining Orders?

How Do California Courts Decide Mutual Restraining Orders
Troubled marriages or domestic relationships are sometimes plagued with violence. Accordingly, California’s Domestic Violence Protection Act provides authority for courts to issue restraining orders in such situations. Normally, one party to the relationship has been threatened or attacked and petitions a court to issue an order instructing the aggressor not to have contact with her. In rare cases, mutual restraining orders—those that direct both parties to stay away from the other—are issued.


Under the DVPA, a judge may issue a restraining order based on a written request from a party, but only after notice and an opportunity to respond has been given to the party to be restrained. In the case of a mutual restraining order, it is necessary that both parties make a written request for the other to be restrained. This point was recently emphasized by the Second District Court of Appeal in a divorce proceeding.


In the case, the wife filed a request for a restraining order. The husband submitted documentation in his response showing that the wife was currently restrained from contact with him by a criminal restraining order and that the wife had pleaded guilty to a charge of assault against him.


The court, of its own volition, issued a mutual restraining order prohibiting each party from having contact with the other. As its basis for restraining the wife as well as the husband, the court pointed to the criminal restraining order and found that the wife had already been restrained. As such, the court noted that the wife had already been deemed guilty of domestic violence beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, the court felt it had no need to make any findings regarding the need for an order restraining her.


The appeal court reversed the lower court’s order, however, holding that a restraining order could not be issued without a written request by the party to be protected. In this case, the husband had not made such a request. Rather, he had included documentation in his response to his wife’s request showing that she was currently under restraint.


The appeal court found that the regulatory scheme of the DVPA and its legislative history were clear that a party had to make an actual request for protection. The court also pointed out that the issuance of an order without proper notice to the party to be restrained, as well as an opportunity to respond, violated constitutional standards.


As you can see, the manner in which legal matters are handled can materially affect the outcome.  If you’re involved in a divorce or separation, you should work with an attorney with substantial experience in the area, who knows the mechanics of how family law matters are handled. To obtain experienced legal help, contact the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger at (415) 259-6636 to discuss your case.

Standard Child Abuse and Neglect Legal Procedures in California

ChildofDivorceWhen someone files a credible report regarding a child in danger, an investigation must be conducted by either a social worker or the police. They will decide if the child appears to be in imminent danger and whether it is necessary to remove the child from his or her home. Police or the social workers may decide that a child should be placed in temporary foster care for his or her safety if they believe the child was neglected, molested, or abused. The child may be sent to live with a relative, to the other legal parent if the parents do not live together, or to a foster home or shelter. Once a child is removed from the home, social services should conduct a deeper investigation about the home environment, the parent or other caretakers, and the child. After an investigation, social services will make recommendations regarding what action they consider to be best for the child’s safety and personal wellbeing. They may recommend filing a petition in court to have a child declared “dependent.” If you believe you have been wrongfully targeted by social services and need someone on your side to fight for you and your child, seek the help of an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. A delay could be used against you by social services later. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we will aggressively pursue the best outcome possible for you in your divorce or custody proceedings.  Judy L. Burger is known for taking a firm stand in representing clients in high conflict cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can help. Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.

What are California’s Rules for Spousal Support?

When is Spousal Support Allowed?
When is Spousal Support Allowed?
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a payment made by one spouse to the other for support during or after legal separation or divorce.  A party can ask the court in his or her first filing to award temporary alimony to help the party meet expenses during the divorce. Similarly, a party seeking a domestic violence restraining order may also seek spousal support. A judge must consider certain factors before awarding spousal support, such as the ages of the parties, the standard of living of the parties during the marriage, the earning capacity of both parties, and the length of the marriage or domestic partnership.  Domestic violence committed by one party against the other may also be considered. Spousal support generally falls into one of two categories depending on the intended purpose of the alimony.  Rehabilitative alimony is intended to help a spouse get on his or her feet financially and usually is limited to a specific amount of time.  Permanent alimony may include monthly payments, lump sum payments, annuity payments, or trust payments.  Permanent alimony usually terminates upon the remarriage or romantic cohabitation of the receiving spouse or upon the death of either party. The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger can assist you in pursuing or defending a claim for spousal support.  Judy L. Burger is known for her aggressive representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas. If you are in need of assistance regarding alimony, call us today to learn more about how we can help.  Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916) 631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.

Can I Get a Restraining Order Against My Spouse While I’m Still Married?

Domestic violence affects every class and race in every city and county in California. Sometimes the abuse remains hidden, but help is available through law enforcement and the courts. The first step beyond a routine police report for a victim of domestic violence is often seeking a restraining order against the abuser, and it is possible to get a restraining order against your husband or wife while you are still married. When children are involved, the urgency of the situation escalates rapidly. While a restraining order is only a piece of paper and may not stop a determined abuser, it can be an effective deterrent for an abuser who values his freedom. An abuser who violates a restraining order can be arrested on the spot and jailed for a time — at least long enough for victims to seek a safe place. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we offer the full range of legal services for victims of domestic violence. We can seek a restraining order, a temporary custody and support order if necessary, and aggressively pursue a divorce at the same time. We believe in striking fast and finishing strong in high conflict cases, including those where domestic violence is a factor. It is important to note that over many years of practicing law, we have seen cases where a spouse claims domestic violence where there is no evidentiary support for the abuse. We strive to represent the facts to a court honestly and will not knowingly present false information. If you are a spouse who has been accused of domestic violence where none exists, and you believe the accusation was made to enhance your spouse’s standing in a pending divorce or custody case, contact us to discuss your options. The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger can assist you in fighting for your rights and those of your children in a divorce, custody, or visitation matter involving domestic violence in California. Judy L. Burger is known for her aggressive representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay areas. If you are in need of a restraining order due to domestic violence, or need help dealing with allegations of domestic violence in a divorce or custody setting, call us today to learn more about how we can help you. Call (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.