Articles Posted in Child Custody & Visitation

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.

In many instances in which a couple ends their romantic relationship, they have contentious disagreements. In some cases, their arguments become physical. Fortunately, the law allows victims of domestic violence to seek protective orders to prevent further harm. The courts must comply with the proper procedure prior to issuing such orders, and if they do not, such orders may be vacated. This was demonstrated recently in a California case in which the parties both sought restraining orders against one another. If you are the victim of domestic violence, it is prudent to speak to a skilled San Diego family law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for seeking protection.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the mother and the father dated for a year, during which they had a child together. Their relationship was marked by acts of violence committed by the father and the total inability of the parties to communicate with one another effectively. After the relationship ended, they each filed requests for Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) restraining orders against the other.

Allegedly, the court held an evidentiary hearing, after which it found that both parties acted as primary aggressors against each other, and neither had acted in self-defense. Thus, the court entered mutual orders against both parties and issued an order granting joint legal and physical custody of the minor child. The mother appealed. Continue reading

Generally, parties engaged in family law disputes are required to pay for their own attorneys. In some family law matters, however, they may be entitled to recover attorneys’ fees from the opposing party. The grounds for ordering one party to pay another’s legal fees were the topic of an opinion issued by a California court earlier this month in a custody case. If you need help with a custody dispute, it is advisable to consult a capable San Diego child custody lawyer to evaluate what measures you can take to protect your parental rights.

The Factual Background

Reportedly, the mother gave birth to a son in November 2018. She then instituted a child support claim against the father. The father’s paternity was established via genetic testing, after which the court entered a stipulated judgment. The father subsequently sought sole custody of the child and a protective order against the mother, arguing she engaged in harassment and cyberstalking.

California is unique in that it allows for three people to be deemed the parents of a child. For example, a child may have a mother and two fathers. Simply because a person is entitled to status as the presumed father of a child does not mean they should be granted parental rights, though. Recently, a California court discussed the factors evaluated in determining whether to grant a party third-parent status in an opinion issued in a matter in which a child’s biological father sought custody rights. If you need assistance with a custody matter, it is advisable to confer with a knowledgeable San Diego child custody lawyer to determine your options for seeking a just outcome.

The History of the Case

It is reported that in 2015, the mother had two romantic relationships that overlapped: one with the third-party father and one with the father. She became pregnant and advised the third-party father that he was not the father of the child, based on the information from her doctor regarding the date of conception. The father signed a voluntary declaration of parentage and was listed on the child’s birth certificate. She later married the father.

Allegedly, a few years later, the mother determined that the third-party father was the biological father of her child, which was confirmed via DNA testing. She permitted the third-party father to visit with the child on a few occasions but later advised him she did not believe it was in the child’s best interest for them to form a relationship. The third-party father filed a petition to establish a third-party parent relationship with the child. The court denied the petition, and the third-party father appealed.

Factors Weighed in Determining Whether to Grant Third-Party Rights Continue reading

There are many ways to raise a child, and some parents engage in childrearing habits that may be viewed as unconventional. For example, parents may choose to adopt a nomadic lifestyle instead of raising their children in one location. In such instances, it may not immediately be clear what state has jurisdiction over custody disputes. Recently, a California court discussed the assumption of jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (the Act) in a matter in which the state terminated a mother’s parental rights. If you need assistance with a custody dispute, it is smart to meet with a dedicated San Diego child custody lawyer regarding your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

History of the Case

It is reported that the mother lived in a van with her two minor adopted children. In 2019, Montana’s child protective services removed the children from the mother’s care due to evidence she abused and neglected them. A court placed the children with their grandmother but later returned them to the mother’s care. The mother and one of the children then traveled to Washington, where she was again investigated by child protective services before ending up in California.

Allegedly, the mother, who had significant mental health issues, called the police regarding a perceived bomb threat and was placed under a psychiatric hold. The Department of Children and Family services moved to terminate the mother’s parental rights and the child was removed from the mother’s custody. The mother later objected, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction over the matter. Continue reading

Appointing a guardian ad litem for a parent in a dependency matter drastically alters the parent’s role. Specifically, it allocates control and direction of the litigation to the guardian ad litem rather than the parent. Although it is sometimes necessary to appoint a guardian ad litem to protect the parent, as explained in a recent opinion issued by a California court, the appointment of a guardian ad litem should not be used as a means to restrain a difficult parent, even if the parent repeatedly acts against their own interests and that of their child and interferes with court proceedings. If your parental rights are in jeopardy, it is advisable to speak to a skilled San Diego child custody attorney to discuss what measures you can take to protect your interests.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that in June 2018 and in January 2019, the mother presented to the emergency departments of a hospital complaining of migraines and pain. Blood tests during her visits revealed her BAC to be .297 and .296, respectively. Following her second trip to the hospital, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (the Department) filed a petition to have the mother’s minor son deemed a dependent of the state, alleging that the mother had an extensive history of alcohol abuse and suffered from anxiety and depression, which rendered her unable to care for her minor son.

Allegedly, the court sustained the allegations in the complaint and deemed the mother’s son a dependent child. The mother underwent a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, and the doctor that examined her concluded that she suffered from anxiety and anger issues but that they arose out of the dependency proceeding and not a mental illness. Due to the mother’s erratic behavior and repeated disputes with her attorney during the pendency of proceedings, the court raised the issue of whether to appoint a guardian ad litem for the mother. The court ultimately decided to appoint a guardian ad litem for the mother, after which she appealed. Continue reading

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