Parents disputing child custody matters often just want to spend time with their children. In many cases, they may also argue over who has the authority to decide what is best for them. Although it is not a common occurrence, sometimes a parent does not believe that the other parent is suitable to be awarded any form of custody. In such cases, the courts in San Diego would have to step in and decide what is in the best interests of the child. An experienced family lawyer, who is familiar with the local court rules and procedures, can help a parent achieve the best possible child custody arrangement for their family.
A recent custody dispute in Oklahoma underscores the kinds of issues that can arise when one parent believes the other is unfit and should not be allowed to have custody of a child. According to news reports, a judge in Oklahoma City recently awarded sole custody of a six year-old girl to her father, a 55 year-old convicted sex offender. In 1995, the father was convicted of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under the age of fourteen. The parents in this case were married and living in Bakersfield, California. After becoming pregnant with their only child, the mother moved to Oklahoma.
The couple divorced in 2008. The mother was granted custody of their daughter and the father was permitted supervised, and then later, unsupervised visits. The father ultimately filed for custody of the child after the mother stopped allowing him to see his daughter. Just this past June, the court granted the father’s request and awarded him full custody, despite his record of child sex abuse. Apparently in Oklahoma, there is no law prohibiting a judge from awarding custody in such a situation. The father completed his probation and parole in 2001 but many people were still surprised by the judge’s decision.
According to a recent news report, just a few weeks after the custody award, the police pulled over the father for speeding and they found a bullet in his car. As a convicted felon, he is not permitted to be in possession of ammunition or firearms. He was arrested and the child was taken away from him. It seems that the California Department of Health Care Services is afforded a certain amount of time to inspect the father’s home before making a decision about whether he will be able to maintain custody of his daughter.
In California, whether a family law judge will consider your prior felony in making a child custody determination will depend on the type of offense, how much time has elapsed since the commission of the crime, and whether your conviction has been expunged. In a recent blog post, we covered how prior criminal conduct can affect a child custody case and whether expungement can help a parent achieve a shared custody arrangement.
In any child custody dispute, whether there is a history of criminal conduct or not, parents are encouraged to contact an experienced family law attorney as early in the matter as possible to protect and advance their rights.
Parents with questions about child custody matters are encouraged to contact Doppelt & Forney. Mr. Doppelt is a knowledgeable family law attorney with more than 20 years of experience representing parents in Southern California. Doppelt & Forney serves clients in Linda Vista, Encinitas, Scripps Ranch, San Diego, and throughout Southern California. For a free consultation with a dedicated family lawyer, contact Doppelt & Forney through the law firm’s website or give us a call toll-free at (800) ROY IS IT (769-4748).
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