Category Archives: Domestic Violence

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 Rubio rescinded the bill in the face of strong opposition from the Judicial Council of California.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.

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.


The Collateral Damage of Domestic Violence

The Collateral Damage of Domestic Violence

Often there are witnesses to catastrophic events. We may not realize it, but just seeing something traumatic unfold before you can have a severe and long-lasting effect on mental health. This principle holds true whether the event is large scale or happening right at home. The situation can be even more serious when the witness is a child, especially if domestic violence is involved.

An Expanded Definition of Domestic Violence

But, first, it’s important to understand that domestic violence is more than just physical abuse. It can be defined as any “pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.”

California courts define domestic violence 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 (like threats or promises to harm someone); OR
  • Behavior like harassing, stalking, threatening, or hitting someone; disturbing someone’s peace; or destroying someone’s personal property.”

It’s entirely possible to witness domestic violence but not realize how harmful it is. For example, a child watching his father demean his mother may not realize the underlying damage. However, the experience will still be troubling and could cause long-lasting effects.

Children and Domestic Violence

While children may not understand exactly what is happening, they usually can tell when someone is afraid.  Often, they become afraid also.

Young children who witness violent acts against a loved one might regress in certain behavior like thumb-sucking and bed-wetting. Also, they could begin hiding from adults or have trouble falling asleep.

School-age children might understand more of what’s going on. They may start to exhibit a lot of vague physical symptoms like frequent headaches or stomach problems. In school, their grades could fall, and they might tend to get into trouble more often than other children.

Teenage witnesses of domestic abuse have more risky and dramatic ways of showing they’ve been damaged by what they’ve seen at home. Girls are more likely to be withdrawn and depressed. Boys are more likely to act out by fighting, bullying other kids, getting arrested, or using alcohol and drugs.

The collateral damage associated with domestic violence can last well into adulthood. Some people continue the cycle of abuse. Others take refuge in addictions. At the very least, they may have trouble sustaining healthy, intimate relationships.

How to Help

Just witnessing violent behavior can profoundly affect children, even if no one ever lays a finger on them.

Here are some actions you can take if you are a victim of domestic violence:

  1. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
  2. Contact law enforcement and ask for help.
  3. Find local resources for domestic violence victims.
  4. Talk to an attorney about getting a domestic violence restraining order.
  5. If you are married to your abuser, ask your attorney about filing for divorce.

Also, find out about counseling options for your children, especially if they witnessed any abusive behavior.

Children Can Become the Collateral Damage of Domestic Violence

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.

Getting a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

Getting a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

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

Understanding Domestic Violence

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

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

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

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

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

The Courts and Your Domestic Violence Restraining Order

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

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

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

What’s Next?

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

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

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

Call to Discuss Your Divorce and Domestic Violence Restraining Order

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

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

Do Children Testify at Divorce Hearings

Do Children Testify at Divorce Hearings?

Children rarely, if ever, ask their parents to split up. Instead, they sometimes just become part of the collateral damage of divorce. Dealing with the court system during a divorce is stressful for everyone, including children. Even parents who try to do what’s best for their kids may wonder if courts will increase the tension by making children testify at divorce hearings. Let’s look at how this problem is handled in California.

Children, Divorce, and California Law

Each divorce is a little different. Sometimes court hearings are needed to address children’s needs related to custody and visitation.

Fortunately, California law does not require children to testify at divorce hearings. Likewise, California law does not expressly prohibit children from speaking in court. Generally, courts consider a child’s participation on a case-by-case basis. Age plays a part in the court’s decision, as set out in California Family Code Section 3042:

  • Children under 14 years of age might address the court if the court determines that it is appropriate and in the child’s best interests.
  • Children over 14 years of age will be allowed to testify unless the court decides testifying is not in the child’s best interests.

If the court decides the child cannot testify in open court, alternative methods include:

  • Allowing the child to participate in a child custody mediation,
  • Appointing a child custody evaluator,
  • Allowing people to present evidence on behalf of the child,
  • Admitting information provided by a child interview center or counselor.

The judge may also allow testimony in a closed courtroom or in the judge’s chambers.

But what happens when the court decides to allow kids to participate in hearings?

Requesting That Children Testify at Divorce Hearings

Sometimes, people close to a child may learn that he or she wants to testify. According to the 2020 California Rules of Court, the following people must let the court know if this happens:

  • The minor child’s counsel
  • Evaluators
  • Investigators
  • Child custody recommending counselors.

Any party to the divorce or any party’s attorney may also let the court know that a child wants to testify. Also, judicial officers may ask whether children want to testify.

How the Courts Handle Children’s Testimony

Just because a court decides to let children testify at divorce hearings does not mean they stop protecting those children. Judges might appoint an attorney to represent the child during the testimony. Courts decide where the testimony will happen – in open court or in the judge’s chambers – and who will be present. In some cases, it is not in the child’s best interests to allow parents to attend. Finally, judges will protect children who testify at divorce hearings from harassment and inappropriate questioning.

You Need Experienced Advice When Children Testify at Divorce Hearings

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

The True Cost of Domestic Violence

The True Cost of Domestic Violence

When something happens often, we may start to lose sight of its importance. For example, an average of 24 Americans per minute are victimized by an intimate partner or family member. You probably know someone who has suffered. You may have been a victim yourself. Once someone is in a safe place or has recovered from their injuries, it may seem like the incident is over. However, the long-term effects of intimate partner violence make it difficult to understand the true cost of domestic violence.

The term ‘domestic violence’ actually encompasses far more behaviors than you may realize. In fact, abuse may include physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse. Economic control and other methods of intimidation are also considered domestic violence. And it does not have to be committed by someone with whom you have a romantic interest. The abuser can be anyone who is closely related or living with you.

Domestic Violence Affects Mental Health.

The aftereffects of physical abuse are typically easy to see. But once the bruises have healed, the victim may still suffer. Fear is a strong emotion, and it’s natural for a victim to be fearful that the abuse will happen again unless they get help.

Psychological harm is less obvious but just as destructive. Victims of domestic violence may even develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that affects their daily lives.

The mental health cost of domestic violence can be measured in the cost of therapy. The harm to a victim’s spirit is a cost that cannot be easily determined.

Chronic Illnesses Add to  Domestic Violence Costs

Domestic violence takes a toll on the person being abused. In fact, it’s highly likely they will develop chronic illnesses. Studies have shown the links between violence and long-term health problems. For example, stress and other aftereffects can cause or exacerbate conditions like:

People exposed to domestic violence may also engage in behavior that endangers their health. The cost of domestic violence includes medical care and therapies needed to counteract chronic illness.

Medical Bills May Pile Up

People injured by an intimate partner may require medical treatment for injuries, mental health problems, and chronic illness. Adults or children who have merely witnessed domestic violence may also need medical care. The cost of domestic violence in terms of medical care is staggering. In the United States alone, the estimated annual cost of domestic violence is $8.3 billion.

Domestic Violence Causes Pain and Suffering

This estimate may not factor in the indirect cost of domestic violence. A victim of domestic violence may feel pain and suffering for an exceptionally long time. Their friends and loved ones also suffer, knowing that someone they love is in harm’s way. Pain and suffering are impossible to calculate. But they can cause long-lasting issues in a person’s life.

Determining the Cost of Domestic Violence Is Not Easy

If you have been the victim of domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Then call an attorney who can offer legal solutions to your situation.

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

California restraining orders

4 Types of California Restraining Orders

California restraining orders are available to help people in various circumstances. For example, Todd’s partner, Zach, has threatened him with violence, shoved him during arguments, and violently pulled his hair. Amanda has suffered the same kind of behavior but from her former roommate. At age 78, Dan is trying to live in his own home for as long as possible, but his grandson has been stealing his possessions and money. Finally, Maryann’s boss at the diner noticed a customer was stalking Maryann at work and waiting for her in the parking lot. A restraining order might help any of these individuals feel more protected. In fact, there are four different types of California restraining orders. Continue reading