Articles Posted in Child Custody & Visitation

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.

Domestic violence is a serious issue impacting many San Diego family cases. While all accusations of domestic violence should be taken seriously, they do not all have the same impact when it comes to the outcome of divorce and custody actions. The Courts will, generally, consider relatively recent evidence that a person engaged in domestic violence when determining how to resolve disputed issues in custody matters, as explained in a recent ruling issued by a California Court. The Court can also consider a pattern of conduct including convictions for domestic violence under Penal Code Section 273.5 among others. If you want to understand how allegations that you or your co-parent engaged in acts of domestic violence may alter your custody rights, it is critical to consult a San Diego child custody attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

Reportedly, the mother, who was married to the father, filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage in 2015. Six years after the filing, the Court conducted a six-day trial on the issues of custody and visitation. It then issued a final custody order in which it granted the parents joint physical and legal custody of their daughter, who was seven years old at the time.

It is alleged that the mother objected to the order, arguing that the Court erred in granting the father parental rights, as California Family Code 3044 presumes that a party that committed domestic violence within the past five years should not be granted physical or legal custody of a child. The mother asserted that the five-year period in question should run backward from the date the petition for dissolution of marriage was filed instead of from the time the Court issued the custody order. The Court rejected this argument, defining it as impractical construction. The mother then appealed. Continue reading

Custody battles are often contentious, and parties can have strong reactions if a Judge issues a ruling they deem unfavorable. Merely because a Judge finds in one party’s favor does not mean that they harbor a bias, however, and parties that unjustly accuse a Judge of being partial to their opponent may be sanctioned. As demonstrated in a recent California ruling issued in a custody dispute, however, the California Family Code does not permit the Courts to sanction attorneys for the conduct of their clients. If you are embroiled in an argument over child custody, it is wise to meet with a skilled San Diego child custody lawyer to assess your options.

Background of the Case

It is reported that the mother and the father had a child in 2019. The mother then filed a petition seeking primary physical and joint custody of the child. During the hearing on the matter, the Judge expressed concern that the mother seemed to believe she was in control of custody and could determine when the father saw the child. The Judge granted an interim custody order to allow the mother to hire an attorney.

Allegedly, the mother then retained counsel and filed a motion to disqualify the Judge. The Judge warned her that her refusal to answer questions regarding visitation could lead to sanctions. The mother then submitted a proposed judgment. The father objected to the judgment on the grounds that it did not comply with the Judge’s previously entered order, and the Judge agreed, ruling in the father’s favor. The issue of sanctions arose again due to the mother’s continuous filing of late motions without notice. The Judge ultimately ordered sanctions against the mother and her attorney pursuant to California Family Code Section 271. The mother then appealed. Continue reading

When parents share custody of a child, they will often rely on the Courts to determine if one party owes the other child support and, if so, what amount of support is appropriate. If a party believes that a Court ruled improvidently with regard to a child support determination, they can file an appeal. They must do so within the time set forth by law, however, to avoid dismissal of their appeal on procedural grounds. This was demonstrated recently in a California child support case in which the Court dismissed a father’s appeal as untimely. If you or your co-parent intend to seek child support, it is advisable to meet with a skilled San Diego child support attorney promptly to avoid inadvertently waiving your rights.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that in September 2020, the County Department of Child Support Services filed a complaint against the father to establish child support for his minor children. The Department attached a proposed judgment regarding child support to the complaint. The father filed an answer disputing the support requested. The Department then filed a motion for an order of child support, to which the father filed a responsive declaration.

Allegedly, the Court held a hearing in June 2021. During the hearing, the Court considered the father’s brief and testimony from the mother and the father. It continued the hearing after directing the father to provide a declaration with relevant case law. Following the continuation of the hearing, during which the Court considered the case law requested and additional testimony, the Court took the matter under submission. In August 2021, the Court issued a ruling ordering the father to pay child support, which was effective October 2020. The Court also filed a judgment regarding parental obligations, and served the judgment on the father. The father filed a notice of appeal in October 2021. Continue reading

Generally, parents who share joint custody of a child will reside in close proximity to one another. It is not uncommon for circumstances to arise that trigger a desire in one parent to move to another state, however. Whether the Courts grant a parent the right to move with a child to another state depends on numerous factors, but if a Court issues an order allowing a move, it may be difficult to overturn. This was demonstrated recently in an opinion issued by a California Court in a case in which a father appealed an order granting his ex-wife the right to move to Georgia with their child. If your parental rights are at risk, it is in your best interest to speak to a San Diego child custody lawyer as soon as possible.

The Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and the father married in 2014. They had one child, a daughter, who was born in 2017. The father filed a petition for the dissolution of the marriage the following year. The Court granted the dissolution, awarded the parties joint legal custody of the child, and granted the mother primary physical custody. The father had visitation rights for three hours each weekday and weekends twice per month.

It is not unheard of for the Courts to require parties in family law proceedings to undergo medical evaluations. Typically, the results of such assessments are confidential and cannot be disclosed in other matters. While parties may be tempted to use statements made by their opponents to their advantage in family law cases, doing so can result in the imposition of sanctions. This was demonstrated in a recent California custody case in which the father revealed information from the mother’s prior medical exam. If you are involved in a dispute over custody of your child, it is wise to contact a San Diego child custody lawyer to assess what evidence the Court may consider in determining parental rights.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the father and mother married in August 2014 and had a child in 2016. In 2017, the mother sought and obtained a domestic violence restraining order against the father, which is set to expire in June 2022. Additionally, the father pleaded guilty to battery on a spouse. The Court issued a criminal protective order against the father, and the mother was granted sole custody of the child.

It is alleged that the father subsequently filed a request for order seeking joint physical and legal custody of the child he shared with the mother. In his request, he referred to and quoted a confidential psychological report from an evaluation the mother underwent in the dissolution proceedings of her prior marriage. The mother opposed the father’s request and sought sanctions. The Court found in favor of the mother and issued $10,000 in sanctions against the father and $15,000 against his attorney. The attorney appealed. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Under California law, the Courts’ driving concern in any child custody case is what is in the best interest of the child. Among other things, this means the Courts will consider whether either parent has a history of domestic violence, and if they do, will presume that it is not beneficial for their child to live with them. The presumption can be rebutted, but only if certain evidence is offered. This was demonstrated in a recent California ruling, in which the Court reversed an earlier ruling that failed to apply the presumption. If you have questions regarding domestic violence in the context of child custody, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced San Diego child custody lawyer to assess your options.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife had two minor children that were born of the marriage. The wife filed a lawsuit seeking a dissolution of the marriage. At the same time, she sought a domestic violence restraining order against the husband via a separate action; the Court dismissed the case, however, due to the wife’s failure to serve the husband. The Family Court granted the dissolution by default and granted the wife sole custody of the children. She then moved with the children to Utah.

Allegedly, the husband stated he did not know about the divorce proceeding and moved to set aside the default. The wife again sought a domestic violence restraining order in Utah and presented the Court with evidence that the husband subjected her to abuse for years. The Utah Court granted the wife a temporary restraining order, while the California Family Court set aside the default and granted the husband joint custody. The wife appealed. Continue reading

There are many ways to grow a family, including adoption. In some instances, a child’s birth family will want to retain contact with a child and will request an open adoption. Usually, the open adoption contract will be made part of the order granting the adoption. If it is not, however, the court may see fit to amend the final adoption order, as illustrated in a recent California case. If you have questions regarding child custody or adoption, it is in your best interest to speak to a knowledgeable San Diego family law attorney about your options.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the two minor children were placed in the dependency system. They were then cared for by their paternal grandmother. The grandmother formally adopted both children but was having considerable difficulties caring for them. As such, she contacted an adoption agency and requested that the children be re-placed for adoption. She stipulated, though, that the children must continue to be a part of her family and that the adoptions must be open. Subsequently, the adoptive parents signed an open adoption contract.

Allegedly, after the court finalized the adoption, disagreements arose between the adoptive parents and the grandmother. The grandmother then discovered that the agreement had not been submitted to the adoption court and had not been considered or included in the original adoption order. As such, she filed a petition to amend the final judgment of adoption to include the agreement that was signed by the parties prior to the adoption. The Trial Court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over the matter because the court that granted the adoptions failed to make the appropriate judicial decisions as to whether the post-adoption contact arrangement was entered into willingly and was in the best interests of the children. Therefore, it deemed the agreement invalid. The grandmother appealed. Continue reading

Parents often aim to keep their families intact, but despite their intentions, many parents decide to separate and share custody of their children. Raising a child can be costly, and it is not uncommon for one parent to seek financial support from the other. Even co-parents that have an amicable relationship may not always agree as to the best way to split time with their children during important events like holidays or who should bear the costs of transporting the child from one parent’s home to another. As such, it is smart for anyone who shares custody of a child to contact a seasoned San Diego child custody lawyer to assess their options.

Child Support

One issue that commonly arises when parents share custody of a child and one parent is required to pay support, is that the obligor parent believes they are paying the other parent to care for their children and becomes resentful. In truth, it only appears that way on paper. The California Courts employ statutory child support guidelines to determine how much each parent should contribute to their child’s upbringing. In general, the guidelines dictate that the parent who earns more money should provide more money towards the costs of raising the child.

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