California Court Discusses Domestic Violence in the Context of Custody Cases

When handling custody matters, the primary consideration of the California courts is what is best for the child that is the subject of the dispute. This includes assessing whether either parent has committed acts of domestic violence, as the law presumes that awarding custody rights to a party who perpetrated such acts would be harmful to the child. Recently, a California custody case shed light on what evidence is required to rebut the presumption. If you are involved in a custody dispute, it is advisable to consult with a Bay Area child custody attorney who can guide you through the steps necessary to protect your interests.

Factual Background

It is reported that the father filed an action to establish parentage for two children born when he was romantically involved with the mother. In January 2018, a stipulated judgment was entered, awarding both parents joint physical and legal custody. However, within a year, both parents sought to modify the stipulated judgment.

Allegedly, the mother subsequently filed a request for order asking the court to set aside the judgment on the grounds that the father had bullied her into signing it. Meanwhile, the father sought a domestic violence restraining order, asserting that the mother had previously carried out acts of domestic violence against him. Following a trial, the court set forth a domestic violence restraining order against the mother. The court also held that both parties had partaken in acts of domestic violence but had successfully rebutted the presumption under Section 3044 of the Family Code. The father filed an appeal.

Domestic Violence in the Context of Custody Cases

On appeal, the trial court’s ruling was affirmed. The court clarified that Section 3044 of the Family Code establishes a presumption that awarding custody rights to a parent who has committed an act of domestic violence against the other parent or the child would be detrimental to the child’s best interests. A party arguing the presumption is incorrect must prove their position by a preponderance of the evidence.

Here, the father argued that the court’s finding that he had committed acts of domestic violence against the mother constituted an error. The court found that he had failed to show that he suffered any prejudice as a result of this determination, which is essential for overturning the ruling.

The father also contended that the finding that the mother overcame the presumption influenced the final rulings on custody, visitation, and child support. The court rejected this argument, explaining that the Section 3044 presumption is not biased toward one parent or against the other. Rather, it focuses on the safety and best interests of the child. As such, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Talk to a Dedicated California Child Custody Attorney

In California custody matters, the main goal of the courts is to protect the child, which sometimes means denying custody rights to a parent. If you are involved in a child custody dispute, it is crucial to consult with an attorney to discuss your options. The dedicated child custody attorneys of Bay Area Family Law Center possess the skills and resources needed to help you seek a just outcome, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can contact us via our online form or by calling us at 925-258-2020 to set up a meeting.

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