California Court Examines Grounds for Awarding Sole Custody

In the San Diego Family Law Courts, the best interests of the child or children are always at the forefront of any child custody matter in the mind of the Judge per CA law. Thus, if a Court issues a ruling in a custody case that does not take into consideration what is best for the child involved but instead aims to punish or reward a parent, the ruling could be overturned. This was demonstrated recently in a California custody dispute in which the father successfully appealed an award of sole custody to the mother on the grounds that it was not supported by significant evidence. If you need help protecting your parental rights, it is in your best interest to talk to a trusted San Diego child custody attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the mother and the father, who had two minor children together, were involved in a dispute over custody. The mother was arrested for child endangerment due to driving under the influence of alcohol, leading to the Court sustaining a Welfare and Institutions Code section 300 petition. The Court granted custody of the children to the father, who had to complete a parenting program and submit to drug tests.

Allegedly, although the mother completed her case plan, the father failed to complete his, and the juvenile Court denied his request for joint physical custody. The Court eventually awarded joint legal custody to the parents and sole physical custody to the mother, granting the father unmonitored visitation rights. The father appealed, arguing that no substantial evidence supported the order granting sole physical custody to the mother.

Grounds for Awarding Sole Custody

The Court agreed with the father and reversed the Trial Court ruling. The Court explained that Juvenile Court conducts periodic review hearings to determine whether continued supervision is necessary and if not, it may issue an order determining custody or visitation. In making a custody determination, a Juvenile Court’s primary consideration is always the best interests of the child.

Juvenile Courts have broad discretion to make custody orders in dependency cases, and the review of a custody order is for abuse of discretion.

In the subject case, the Juvenile Court did not explicitly state that awarding sole physical custody to the mother would be beneficial for the children. Rather, the Court’s decision was based on not wanting to reward the father, who did not participate in the case plan. The Court’s decision to grant sole custody to the mother, for this reason, was improper, as the purpose of a custody order is to prioritize the best interests of the children and not to punish or reward either parent for complying or failing to comply with the case plan. Thus, the Court found that the Juvenile Court abused its discretion in issuing the order and reversed its decision.

Talk to a Trusted California Child Custody Attorney

When parents share custody, their primary focus is often ensuring that their children receive the best possible care and support, but in many custody, they may disagree as to what is best for their children. The trusted San Diego child custodyattorneys of Doppelt and Forney APLC have a deep understanding of the complex laws and regulations surrounding child custody cases, and if you engage our services, we will use that knowledge to build a strong and compelling case on your behalf. You can reach us through our online form or call us at 800-769-4748 to set up a free and confidential conference.

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