California Court Addresses Domestic Violence in the Context of Custody Disputes

Parents who share custody of a child do not always agree on issues relating to how the child should be raised, like health care, supervision, and what is in the child’s best interest. As such, disagreements between co-parents are common. While parental views may not always align, parents must treat each other with civility; otherwise, it could escalate to the point where the Courts deem it necessary to impose sanctions. Recently, a California Court discussed what a party must prove to demonstrate that a co-parent’s actions rise to the level of abuse in a ruling issued in a child custody case. If you have concerns regarding custody of your child, it is smart to contact a trusted San Diego child custody lawyer to discuss your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background

Reportedly, the mother filed a petition for dissolution in October 2015, and the marriage was terminated in November 2018. The parties have one 10-year-old daughter born of the marriage and co-parent pursuant to visitation and custody orders. When the child was 8, the father had primary custody, and the mother had professionally supervised visits three times a week at a visitation center. During that time, the father brought the child to the visitation center even though she was sick.

Allegedly, the mother then became argumentative and demanded the father take the child to urgent care. The father agreed, and she accompanied him to the hospital, even though he argued it violated the terms of their custody order. The mother reportedly yelled at the father the entire time. The father then filed a request for a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) seeking protection for himself and the child from the mother. Following a hearing, the Trial Court found the mother disturbed the father’s peace and issued a three-year DVRO. The mother appealed.

Grounds for Granting a DVRO in Custody Actions

The Court of Appeal found that the mother’s conduct may have shown bad co-parenting and poor judgment. Further, the Court agreed that her behavior violated the terms of the custody order and caused the father to experience unnecessary distress in an already emotionally charged custody dispute. The Court noted, however, that the mother’s behavior failed to rise to the level of destroying the father’s mental and emotional calm. As such, the Court found that it did not constitute abuse within the meaning of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA), and did not warrant a DVRO. Therefore, the Court of Appeal reversed the Trial Court ruling.

Speak to a Dedicated California Family Law Attorney

Disagreements over custody and co-parenting can become heated, and if parents act inappropriately, it may lead to loss of parental rights and other sanctions. If you are faced with a custody dispute, it is crucial to speak to an attorney about what measures you can take to protect your interests. The dedicated San Diego family law attorneys of Doppelt and Forney APLC are adept at helping people seek favorable outcomes in child custody matters, and if you engage our services, we will work diligently on your behalf. You can contact us via our online form or by calling us at 800-769-4748 to set up a free and confidential consultation.







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