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.

The Impact of Extracurricular Activities on Visitation

The Impact of Extracurricular Activities on Visitation

Between Jiu-jitsu, football, and violin lessons, some parents may spend hours every week taking their children to extracurricular activities. The job is even more difficult for divorced parents who may struggle to meet the requirements of their parenting agreement. Parents may disagree on the scheduling of activities, the cost, or even just the type of activity. One parent may feel their child should be in a sports program, while the other leans toward robotics or coding. But how important are these activities? Will extracurricular activities affect visitation for children of divorced parents?

Extracurricular Activities Are Important

Little League, Girl Scouts, and chess club are fun activities that also provide some crucial benefits, including:

  • Better academic performance,
  • Higher self-esteem,
  • Improved social skills,
  • Goalsetting,
  • Teamwork,
  • Problem-solving and sharper analytical skills, and
  • More impressive college applications.

However, coordinating math club or gymnastics with an ex-spouse is sometimes not easy.

Time with Your Parents Is Important, Too

How will one parent feel when the other parent schedules an extracurricular activity during their visitation time? Typically, the parent who has custody of the child at the time takes the child to scheduled activities. Problems can arise, especially when ‘fun’ activities’ coincide with a parent’s work or activity schedule. Sometimes a parent feels the activity is not important in their child’s life.

Some of these difficulties can be ironed out in one important divorce document: the parenting plan.

Custody, Visitation, and Parenting Agreements

The type of custody arrangement reached in divorce affects school and extracurricular activities. In a California divorce, custody falls into several categories:

  • Physical Custody has to do with where the child lives. Joint physical custody means the child lives with both parents. However, sole or primary custody means that the child lives with one parent and visits the other parent.
  • Legal Custody relates to the important decisions that parents make for their children. Parents with joint legal custody share the right to make decisions about the children. However, a parent with sole legal custody handles decision-making on their own.

Does one parent have sole legal custody of the children? If so, that parent has the final say on extracurricular activities. However, the non-custodial parent can object or ask for changes to the parenting agreement or visitation schedule.

What Impact Extracurricular Activities Have on Visitation Depends

If parents amicably agree on the when and how of extracurriculars, they can avoid having a judge make decisions for them.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, child custody, and child visitation. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We maintain offices in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.

Different Types of Child Visitation in California

Different Types of Child Visitation in CaliforniaDivorces and separations are replete with hot-button issues. Perhaps no issues are more frequently contested, however, than child custody and child visitation. In a prior blog, I discussed the different types and aspects of child custody. This blog will focus on visitation, which is typically granted to the parent who has the children less than half of the time.

A visitation order spells out how the child’s time will be managed. For example, a visitation order might address where a child would spend birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, major holidays, and summer break.

The California Legislature has declared that the primary concern of courts in making custody and visitation decisions is the “health, safety, and welfare of children.” However, an additional public policy of the state is “assur[ing] that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents.” The law specifically “encourage[s] parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing” to meet this second goal, unless regular contact is not in the best interest of the children. Custody decisions are not made on the basis of a parent’s marital status, lifestyle, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation.

There are four types of visitation orders in California: (1) reasonable visitation; (2) scheduled visitation; (3) supervised visitation; and (4) no visitation.

A reasonable visitation order leaves decisions about how the parents will share the children’s time largely to the parents. These orders provide the parents with the ultimate flexibility; however, if the parents do not get along or if future disagreements may occur, these are not a good choice for the family.

Scheduled visitation provides clear direction to the parents about how the children’s time will be spent. These orders are ideal for parents who may not get along or communicate well because they provide clear expectations. If you’ve ever heard someone say that it was “their weekend” with their children, the court probably ordered scheduled visitation in their divorce. These orders dictate everything from birthdays and major holidays down to evenings and weekends.

Courts use supervised visitation orders when necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of children. In supervised visitation, the parent still gets to spend time with the children but only under the supervision and presence of another adult or, sometimes, a professional agency. Supervised visitation may be used in situations like the following:

  • Allegations or a history of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence;
  • A nonexistent or weakened parent-child relationship;
  • Parental mental illness or substance abuse.

In rare cases, a court will order no visitation for a parent. This is only done when visits would not be in the best interest of the children, such as when a parent refuses to refrain from alcohol or drugs while visiting with the child.

Remember that child support is a matter separate from child visitation. That means that a parent cannot deny visitation to another for nonpayment of support; likewise, a parent cannot deny payment because the other refused visitation.

An experienced family lawyer can ensure that you understand the issues that might impact child visitation and help you present them in the best light possible to a judge. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have substantial experience in Northern California and will represent you aggressively. Please contact us today at (415) 259-6636 to learn more.


False Allegations of Child Abuse in California Custody Battles

False Allegations of Child Abuse in California Custody BattlesThe California Legislature, by law, has said that the primary concern in child custody decisions is the “best interest of the children” It is the policy of the State of California that the “health, safety, and welfare of children” are of the utmost importance.

It is not surprising, then, that false allegations of child abuse may be punished in custody battles in California courts.

The law gives judges the authority to take temporary steps deemed necessary to protect a child who is the target of alleged child abuse, pending the outcome of an investigation and report to the court.

When the investigation is complete, the court must make a determination about whether the child abuse allegations were true or false. If the court finds that the allegations were true, the abusing party has an uphill battle to obtain custody of any kind. That is because California law creates a presumption that a party who meets the following criteria should not receive custody:

  • The parent committed domestic violence;
  • Against the other parent, the child, or the child’s siblings;
  • In the last five years.

But what if the allegations were false?

California law provides stiff penalties for parents who knowingly makes false child abuse allegations. First, the party may be required to pay sanctions. The sanctions can include all costs incurred by the party who had to defend the false allegations, including attorney’s fees.

Additionally, the court may limit custody or visitation of the parent who falsely made the allegations under limited circumstances:

  • The parent made a report of child sexual abuse;
  • That he knew was false when he made it;
  • With the intent to interfere with the other parent’s contact with the child; and
  • A limitation in custody is necessary to protect the child’s health, safety, and welfare.

All of this must be supported by substantial evidence, and the court must consider California’s policy of frequent and continuing contact of children with both of their parents.

Limiting custody may include reduced visitation or supervised visitation.

As the law regarding false child abuse allegations makes clear, the health and well-being of your children are important not only to you, but to the State of California. 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.