Court Discusses the Section 3044 Presumption in California Custody Cases

In San Diego Family Law Court child custody cases, the Judge will determine parental rights and obligations based on what is in the best interest of the child. Among other things, the Courts will consider and rule on whether either party engaged in acts of domestic violence; if there is a finding of domestic violence, it is presumed that granting that party joint legal custody rights would be detrimental to the child. In a recent California custody case in which the father challenged the Trial Court’s ruling, the Court discussed what evidence is necessary to rebut the presumption. If you need assistance with a custody matter, it is smart to meet with a San Diego child custody attorney to evaluate your options for protecting your parental rights.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the father filed a petition seeking to establish the parentage of two children born during his relationship with the mother. In January 2018, the court entered a stipulated judgment granting joint legal and physical custody to both parents and resolved other issues regarding the children. Less than a year later, both parents sought modifications to the stipulated judgment.

Reportedly, the mother filed a request for order, arguing that the father coerced her into signing the stipulated judgment. The father also filed a request for a domestic violence restraining order, alleging that the mother had engaged in acts of domestic violence against him in the past. The Trial Court conducted a trial, after which it issued a domestic violence restraining order against the mother. The Court also found that both parties engaged in acts of domestic violence but rebutted the Section 3044 of the Family Code presumption. The father appealed.

The Section 3044 Presumption in Custody Cases

On appeal, the Court affirmed the Trial Court ruling. In doing so, it explained that Section 3044 of the Family Code provides a presumption that granting a parent custody rights is detrimental to a child’s best interests if the parent has committed an act of domestic violence against the other parent or a child. The presumption may be rebutted by a preponderance of evidence, however.

In the subject case, the trial father contended that the court erred in finding he committed acts of domestic violence against the mother. The court noted, however, that he failed to demonstrate that this finding was prejudicial, which was necessary for a successful appeal.

Further, the father argued that the Trial Court’s improper application of the presumption in favor of the mother influenced the ultimate rulings on custody, visitation, and child support. The Court found that his reasoning was flawed, though, as the Section 3044 presumption is not applied in favor of one parent and against the other but is centered on the child’s safety and best interests. As such, the Court affirmed the Trial Court ruling.

Talk to a Capable California Child Custody Attorney

The California Courts’ main objective in child custody cases is to ensure that the child’s best interests are protected, which in some instances, means denying a parent custody rights. If you are involved in a custody dispute, it is wise to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The capable San Diego child custody attorneys of Doppelt and Forney APLC are mindful of the importance of maintaining the parent-child relationship, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously 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 meeting.

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