In San Diego and throughout California, child custody cases come in all shapes and sizes. Somewhat ironically, David Tutera, wedding planner and host of WEtv’s “My Fair Wedding” has been entrenched in a highly publicized divorce proceeding with his domestic partner, Ryan Jurica. Family law disputes have the potential to elicit strong emotions as spouses find the landscape of their lives changing drastically. As divorcing parents approach this very difficult time, the importance of consulting a local family law attorney who is experienced in matters of child custody cannot be overstated.
According to news reports, Tutera and Jurica married in Vermont in 2003, where same-sex marriage is legal. The couple also entered into a domestic partnership in California, where they lived. In 2013, ten years later, the two separated on New Year’s Day. The men are both fighting for custody of twins that they are expecting in July – with the help of a surrogate.
Under California Law, couples that enter into a domestic partnership must follow procedures in order to dissolve the relationship, which is also referred to as divorce or “dissolution of domestic partnership.” Once a couple has dissolved the relationship, they each can marry or become a domestic partner again.
Back in January, Tutera filed separation papers in Los Angeles County Superior Court citing “irreconcilable differences.” Tutera is asking the court for full custody of the children when they are born, visitation for Jurica, and denial of spousal support. Jurica recently filed divorce papers accusing Tutera of certain alleged sexual indiscretions. He is also seeking full custody of the twins and wants spousal support from Tutera, who allegedly earns $1 million a year. Tutera has refuted Jurica’s allegations as “baseless and untrue.”
As for the couple’s child custody issues, in California either parent can have custody of the children, or the parents can share custody. The parents can agree on the arrangement, but whatever they decide will be subject to the approval of a judge, who ultimately makes the decision about custody and visitation. In most cases, the judge will approve the arrangement agreed upon by both parents. In situations where the parents are unable to agree, the judge will render a decision at a court hearing. Typically, before that judge will order any particular arrangement for custody and visitation, the parents will have met with a mediator from Family Court Services to help sort through each parent’s demands.
It will be interesting to see how the court handles the contested child custody and visitation matters in this case, considering that the children are not born yet. Further complicating matters are Jurica’s allegations that Tutera is “addicted to sex” and has hired sex escorts and prostitutes to support his addiction. In refuting these statements, Turtera has stated that he believes Jurica is simply trying “to gain a legal advantage in our separation.”
Contested custody or visitation cases are complicated. Sorting through the local state laws pertaining to the issues at hand can be a tedious process. It is important to understand what laws affect you and your rights to custody and visitation.