Your Top 12 Child Custody FAQs Answered

Your Top 12 Child Custody FAQs Answered

Child custody is one of family law’s most complicated and emotional issues. Parents understandably have questions and concerns about the child custody process. Certified Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger answers the top 12 child custody questions clients ask us throughout California.

Most Common Child Custody FAQs

  1. What is child custody?

Child custody is the legal and physical responsibility for a child. Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about a child’s upbringing, including education, religion, and healthcare. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and who cares for the child.

  1. What is the difference between sole and joint custody? Sole custody means that one parent has exclusive legal and physical custody of the child. Joint custody means that both parents share legal and physical custody of the child.
  2. What factors do the courts consider when determining child custody? The courts consider several factors when determining child custody, including the child’s age and needs, the parents’ ability to care for the child, the child’s relationship with each parent, and any history of abuse or neglect.
  3. Can grandparents or other family members get custody of a child? In some cases, grandparents or other family members can get custody of a child. However, the court will consider the child’s best interests and the parents’ rights before awarding custody to a third party.
  4. Can a child choose which parent to live with? Sometimes, a child can express a preference for which parent to live with. The court will consider the child’s age and maturity level before taking their preference into account.
  5. Can child custody orders be modified? Yes, child custody orders can be modified if there has been a significant change in circumstances, such as a parent’s relocation or a change in the child’s needs.
  6. What is a parenting plan? A parenting plan is a written agreement between parents that outlines each parent’s responsibilities and rights regarding the child. It includes details about custody, visitation, and decision-making.
  7. What is supervised visitation? Supervised visitation is when a parent is allowed to visit with their child but only under the supervision of a third party, such as a social worker or family member.
  8. Can a parent move out of state with their child after a custody order has been issued? If a parent wants to move out of state with their child after a custody order has been issued, they must obtain permission from the other parent or the court.
  9. Can I get custody of a child in another state?

It is possible, but it requires petitioning for custody in the state where the child lives. Attorney Judy Burger can help you understand the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and what is required.

  1. How can I prove the other parent is unfit?

This requires presenting evidence to the court that demonstrates the other parent clearly endangers your child’s safety and well-being. Photos, videos, doctor reports, witness testimony, and more may be used to present your case.

  1. What are my parental rights?

Married spouses have joint custody of their children under the law until a court-ordered custody order is in effect. Unmarried mothers have sole physical custody of their children until the father legally establishes paternity. Court-issued custody orders grant certain rights according to the circumstances.

What If I Have Other Questions?

What should I do if I need help with child custody issues? If you need help with child custody issues, you should consult with experienced Family Law Attorney Judy Burger. She can help you understand your rights and options and guide you through the legal process.

Child custody can be a complex and emotional issue. Understanding the process and your rights can help you make informed decisions and protect your child’s best interests. Contact Certified Family Law Specialist Judy Burger with your questions and concerns.


What Can I Expect During a Child Custody Court Hearing?

What Can I Expect During a Child Custody Court Hearing?

Facing a child custody hearing in California can be nerve-wracking and worrisome. However, fear of the unknown is what generates the most anxiety. Certified Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger has helped numerous clients prepare for child custody hearings. Every client gets her personal attention and the benefit of her expertise.

The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger reviews what you can expect during a child custody court hearing and how we can help you.

The Typical Child Custody Hearing

Every child custody hearing is different due to the individuals and circumstances involved. However, each follows a similar format. Here is what you can expect.

The Setting

Your child custody court hearing will be held in a courtroom and presided over by a family law judge. Both parents and their legal representatives may be present. Family witnesses, expert witnesses, teachers, therapists, and other specialists may also be present and submit evidence to the court.

The Judge

The judge is a duly appointed legal arbiter with significant training and background in family law matters. His or her role is to decide what is in the best interests of the child or children in question. They will weigh all the evidence presented before making any official rulings. The judge may also ask you and your spouse questions and may speak with your child privately I order to obtain as much information as possible for making the best decision.

Presenting Evidence

Your attorney will help you collect and prepare evidence and your own testimony supporting your case. Each parent will have the opportunity to present evidence for consideration. This can include witness testimony, specialist testimony, medical records, financial records, school records, audio recordings, video, and more. Your attorney will also help you prepare to answer questions about your evidence and testimony from the judge and on cross-examination.

Cross-Examination and Rebuttals

Each parent or their attorney is given the chance to cross-examine the other parent’s witnesses and evidence. At this point, you may challenge any claims or evidence and provide support to refute those claims. A Family Law Attorney like Judy Burger knows how to make sure your rights are protected and the other parties follow the letter of the law in all areas. She can also provide strong rebuttals when necessary.

Possible Child Custody Hearing Outcomes  

After gleaning every bit of evidence and testimony possible from all parties, the judge will issue a ruling granting orders and permissions that govern both parents’ future actions. Here are some possible outcomes:

Child Custody

The judge will grant custody rights to the parents.

  • Sole Custody: This parent has legal and physical custody of the child or children.
  • Joint Custody: In this case, both parents share legal and physical custody of the child or children. This requires an approved parenting plan outlining each parent’s responsibilities.

Visitation Rights

If one parent is granted sole custody, the other parent may be granted visitation rights. The judge will decide the visitation schedule based on what is in the best interest of the child.

Support Agreements

The judge may also order a support agreement in which both parents share the responsibility for meeting their children’s needs.

Existing Child Custody Arrangement Modifications

If an existing custody arrangement is in place, either parent may request a modification if circumstances have significantly changed. The judge will consider the request and decide based on what is in the child’s best interest.

How a Family Law Attorney Can Help

Attorney Judy Burger knows family law in California and how to pursue the best custody and support arrangements for your case. She can help you understand and prepare for the custody hearing process, collect evidence, prepare you for testimony, prepare for expected challenges during the hearing, construct a parenting plan, and further advocate for your interests.

When you’re facing a child custody hearing, contact the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger in California for seasoned expertise.

Top Questions Concerning Child Support and Military Personnel

Top Questions Concerning Child Support and Military Personnel

Child support is a critical aspect of Family Law. Thousands of military personnel and their families reside in California, so it is essential to understand how child support orders affect service members and their families in the state. Certified Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger addresses some of the most common questions concerning child support and military personnel.

Child Support and the Military FAQ

Every situation is different, so you need to consult with Family Law Attorney Judy Burger when questions or issues arise about child support and service members. Here are some basics to know about child support and military personnel.

  1. How is child support calculated for military personnel?

In California, child support is calculated based on several factors, including each parent’s income, time spent with the child, and other expenses. However, there are additional considerations for service members, including allowances and special pay, like Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), hazardous duty pay, sea pay, and more. Although some of these forms of pay are non-taxable, California law includes them all when calculating child support.

  1. Can military personnel be ordered to pay child support even if they are stationed overseas?

Yes. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects active-duty military personnel from legal action, including child support proceedings, while on active duty. However, this protection does not apply to service members who are not on active duty or who are in arrears in their child support payments.

  1. Can military personnel be held in contempt of court for failure to pay child support?

Yes. Failure to pay child support can result in serious consequences, including fines, imprisonment, and loss of security clearance. It is essential to keep up with child support payments, even if stationed overseas or on active duty.

  1. Can military personnel modify child support orders?

Yes, military personnel can modify support orders based on a change in circumstances, such as a change in income or a change in the custody arrangement. However, it is essential to follow the proper legal procedures for modifying support orders to avoid potential legal consequences. The Family Court generally grants expedited hearings for service members who receive deployment orders and need to address child support or custody order modifications.

  1. What happens to child support payments if service members are deployed or transferred?

If soldiers, sailors, airmen, or marines are deployed or transferred, child support payments must continue to be made. However, there are legal provisions that allow for modifications to child support orders in these circumstances. It is crucial to contact experienced Family Law Attorney Judy Burger to help you navigate the legal process.

Get Help from a California Child Support Lawyer

Child support can be a complicated issue, especially for military families. It is essential to understand the legal requirements and protections afforded to military personnel. California Family Code §3047 provides guidance for many issues that can arise when a military service member faces mobilization, deployment, or a temporary assignment that takes them outside the state or country and causes complications with following court-ordered support or custody agreements.

Attorney Judy Burger can provide guidance and support to ensure that child support obligations are met and that the best interests of the child are protected. Child custody and support issues are already challenging, and the pressure of unexpected changes due to military service adds even more complexity. Get the help you need in California from The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We have eight offices to serve you.

May an Imprisoned Parent Have Child Visitation Rights in California?

May an Imprisoned Parent Have Child Visitation Rights in California?

Almost 200,000 kids in California have a parent in jail. This can create complex parenting and custody issues. One of the thorniest problems can be child visitation rights for the incarcerated parent. The parent’s crimes, existing relationship with the child and other parent, and the attitude of the Family Court all have an impact on decisions.

Under California law, any solution must ensure the child’s best interests. This means there can be many options and solutions. Family Law Attorney Judy L. Burger examines the question, “May an imprisoned parent have child visitation rights in California?”

Fast Facts About CA Child Custody and Incarceration

Although there are thousands of families with an incarcerated parent, there is much confusion surrounding this issue. Here are some fast facts about the topic:

  1. Incarceration does not automatically terminate your parenting rights. This can only happen in a limited number of situations.
  2. Imprisonment in California is not automatically considered abandonment of a child as it is in a few other states.
  3. Child custody and parental rights are different issues. The other parent or a grandparent may be granted custodial care of your child while you are in jail, but this does not surrender your parental rights.
  4. Incarceration does not abrogate you from your child support obligations. Making child support payments can help prove you have not abandoned your child and take your parental responsibilities seriously.
  5. You are still entitled to be present in any hearing regarding your parental rights and the matters relating to your child while in prison.  

Child Visitation Rights for CA Inmates

A Family Court may determine that the child’s best interests are met by granting visitation rights to an incarcerated parent. If so, there will likely be stringent guidelines to ensure the child’s safety and well-being. A California Family Law Attorney like Judy L. Burger can help the inmate negotiate the best possible conditions for visiting with their child.

A new law in California takes effect on January 1, 2024, to make it easier for incarcerated parents to obtain visitation rights with their children. The Keep Families Close Act now allows incarcerated parents to request a transfer to a facility near their families. Since 2019 data from the CDCR revealed that over 75% of incarcerated persons are located over 100 miles from their homes, this legislation is a welcome boon for inmates.

According to California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (CDCR) data from 2019, over 75% of people in prisons are incarcerated more than 100 miles away from their homes  According to CDCR data from 2019, over 75% of people in prisons are incarcerated over 100 miles away from their homes. Parents who committed crimes against their child or other serious crimes are exempted.

Moreover, the Family Dignity Act will make the visitation process for families simpler by adopting digital technology. Families will now be able to scan and upload birth certificates so they can be digitally retrieved on each visit and not have to be brought every time.

Help with Child Custody, Support, and Visitation Matters in California

Child custody, support, and visitation issues with an incarcerated parent can be difficult and many factors can impact the court’s decisions. A parent sentenced to prison, currently in prison, or about to be released from prison will need counsel and representation from a CA Family Law Attorney. Similarly, the custodial parent or guardian of the child will need advice and representation to ensure the child’s best interests are ensured.

Certified Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger and her team understand the specific challenges relating to an incarcerated parent and their family. We can help you work out the best arrangements for your family’s welfare and happiness during any phase of the parent’s jail tenure. Contact the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger by phone or online to request a confidential consultation.

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.

Is 50/50 the Best Custody Option for my Kids?

Is 50/50 the Best Custody Option for my Kids?

When parents divorce, one of the most important decisions they will make is how they will share physical custody of their kids. In some cases, parents may want to divide their time equally or “50/50.” This may seem like an equitable and logical choice. However, if you are considering this type of arrangement, you will want to know: Is 50/50 the best custody option for my kids? Continue reading

How Abandonment Can Work In Your Favor In California

Abandonment in Divorce Proceedings
In divorce proceedings, abandonment refers to when one spouse leaves the other without the intention of returning.  Prior to the enactment of “no-fault” divorce laws, spouses could allege abandonment as a ground for seeking a divorce.  Although proving fault is no longer required to get a divorce in California, abandonment may be factored in by a judge when awarding child custody, alimony, and deciding how marital property will be divided. If your spouse abandoned you or the children, you should be prepared to present evidence of the fact of the abandonment and the effects it had on you and the children.  You may have suffered financially and emotionally.  Depending on their ages, the children’s anguish may have manifested in changes in behavior and performance at home or school.  Any evidence of the negative impact of abandonment should be discussed with your attorney and prepared for presentation at trial, if necessary. When you allege abandonment, your spouse may raise a defense of consent or justification.  A deserting spouse can mitigate or eliminate any finding of fault on his part if he can show you consented to the abandonment.  One example of this would be if you asked your spouse to leave and never return. Likewise, a spouse may be able to show that the abandonment was justified due to abuse or another reason, such as the supposed abandonment was actually due to the spouse moving to take a new job while the other spouse refused to move.  Under these circumstances, it is unlikely the court would attach any fault to the abandonment. The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger can assist you in proving or defending an abandonment situation in your divorce proceedings in California.  Judy L. Burger is known for her aggressive representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the Sacramento and San Francisco Bay areas.  If you are a spouse facing divorce, 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.

Additional Factors To Consider When Making a Parenting Plan

We recently discussed California’s requirement for parents to develop a parenting plan, also known as a “custody and visitation agreement” or a “time-share plan,” which is essentially a written agreement between parents detailing how much time the children will spend with each parent and a plan for making important decisions in the future about the child’s welfare and education. Many of the factors in a parenting plan will be obvious, others less so.  In this article we will draw your attention to some of the less than obvious factors to consider when developing your ideal parenting plan.  Some of these items may be extremely important to your family:
  1. Whether there will be regular visitation with grandparents or other extended family members, and if so, how often;
  2. Sleeping arrangements for children and parents, including the children’s or parents’ overnight guests;
  3. Instructions for administering medication;
  4. Dietary requirements or restrictions;
  5. Preferred methods of discipline;
  6. Acceptable methods and frequency of parent-child communication while the children are with the other parent;
  7. Parent-to-parent communication guidelines;
  8. Whether the children need both parents’ consent for piercings or body art;
  9. Responsibility for routine vaccinations, dental care, and medical care;
  10. Acceptable use of technology, including internet, social media, and cell phones;
  11. Curfews for each child and anticipated exceptions, if any;
  12. Acceptable ratings and genre for movies the children may watch;
  13. Acceptable ratings and genre for video games the children may use;
  14. Which extra-curricular/school/sporting events the children will participate in;
  15. Participation in church/synagogue/mosque activities.
These factors may be beyond the usual set of essentials suggested for your parenting plan, but depending on your family dynamics, could be troublesome if not decided ahead of time. The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger can assist you in fighting for your rights and those of your children in a visitation or custody dispute in California.  Judy L. Burger is known for her aggressive representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the Sacramento and San Francisco Bay areas.  If you are a parent with a visitation or custody issue, call us today to learn more about how we can help.  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