Articles Posted in Child Custody

In California, the main concern of the courts in any child custody proceeding is what is in the child’s best interest. This means, among other things, that the court will assess whether one or both parents have a history of engaging in domestic violence. If they do, the court will assume that it will not benefit the child to live with the parent. The presumption is rebuttable, though, as discussed in a ruling recently issued by a California court. If you are faced with a custody dispute and have concerns about domestic violence, it is prudent to meet with a California child custody lawyer to discuss your options.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the wife and the husband married and then had two minor children together. The wife subsequently filed a lawsuit requesting a divorce. Concurrently, she filed a petition for a DVRO (domestic violence restraining order) against the husband in a separate case. The DVRO petition was dismissed, however, due to her failure to serve the petition on the husband. The trial court then granted a divorce by default and awarded the wife sole custody of the minor children.

It is reported that the wife then moved to Utah with the children, after which the husband filed a motion to set aside the default on the grounds that he was unaware of the divorce action. The wife then filed a request for a DVRO in a court in Utah and offered evidence that the husband engaged in years of abuse against her. The Utah court granted the wife’s request and issued a temporary DVRO, while at the same time, the California court granted the husband’s motion to set aside the default and granted him joint custody. As such, the wife appealed. Continue Reading ›

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused numerous changes in most aspects of everyday life, including how children attend school. As many schools throughout the Bay Area transitioned to online learning at the beginning of the pandemic, many parents struggled to juggle helping their children learn, performing their job duties, and handling the stress caused by the pandemic. While many parents found the shift to remote school to be challenging, divorced parents faced additional difficulties and were left wondering how they could help their children with online learning. If you have questions regarding online learning in joint custody situations specifically or child custody in general, it is smart to speak to a knowledgeable California child custody lawyer to evaluate your options.

Modifying Custody Arrangements to Assist with Learning

Many divorced parents who share custody of a child find themselves in a situation where one parent is able to sit at home and monitor the child’s learning while the other parent is not. In some instances, a parent’s new spouse may be able to assist the child. In such instances, the parents may wish to enter into a verbal agreement where the at-home parent has physical custody of the child during the weekdays for the purpose of assisting the child with school.

While it may be tempting to enter into such agreements, it can have unintended implications for each parent’s custody rights. When parents disregard their child custody or visitation orders to allow one parent greater access to the child, it can harm the other parent’s custody rights. This is especially true if the parent with increased access subsequently requests a custody modification. As such, it is smart for anyone who is considering entering into such a verbal agreement with their co-parent with regard to schooling to contact a family law attorney. Continue Reading ›

While most parents want the best for their children and strive to provide them with safe and loving environments, others, unfortunately, engage in behavior that causes their children to suffer physical, emotional, and psychological trauma. When parents share custody of a child, they may not always be aware that their co-parent or someone in their household is mistreating their child. As such, it is critical for parents to increase their awareness of subtle indicators of harm so that they can recognize the signs of child abuse. If you believe your child is being harmed by your co-parent or a member of their family or household, it is in your best interest to consult a dedicated California domestic violence attorney to determine your options.

Recognizing the Signs of Child Abuse

Children who are being abused often present with signs of harm throughout their bodies. In other words, they may frequently have broken bones or cuts, scratches, or contusions on their bodies and faces. While many children sustain minor bruises or scrapes when they play, children that are being abused often suffer such bodily harm on a more frequent and extensive basis.

Children who are subject to abuse often become withdrawn as well, which is sadly usually attributed to “moodiness” rather than a symptom of harm. They may also become anxious or angry and may lash out at people other than their abusers. Many victims of child abuse suddenly begin performing poorly in school or lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed. Continue Reading ›

California courts tasked with determining custody of a child will set forth an order that they feel is in the child’s best interest. The courts weigh numerous factors to determine what is best for a child, including the health of each parent, the likelihood of either parent to help maintain and foster the child’s relationship with the co-parent, and whether the child has special needs.

One factor that was not likely to be considered, though, is how a global pandemic would impact custody and visitation. As such, many parents find themselves questioning how they can safely maintain their custody and visitation rights while abiding by COVID-19 restrictions. If you share custody of a child and need legal advice on how to protect your parental rights and your child’s and your health, it is advisable to confer with a knowledgeable California child custody attorney to discuss your case.

The Impact of California’s COVID-19 Orders on Child Custody Orders

California’s Governor has issued multiple orders since March 2020 to protect the public health of Californians and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including stay at home orders. These orders do not permit parents to discard the terms of child custody or visitation orders, though. Rather, parents must continue to comply with such orders. Continue Reading ›

Generally, if a couple with children decides to divorce, and they are unable to come to an agreement regarding custody, they will ask the court to evaluate the evidence and issue a ruling. Parties that believe a custody ruling to be erroneous or unjust can file an appeal, but they generally must demonstrate a clear error to obtain a reversal. Recently, a California court issued an opinion describing how appellate courts evaluate custody rulings in a case in which the mother filed an appeal following an award of joint custody. If you are embroiled in a custody dispute, it is important to speak with a trusted California child custody attorney to evaluate your options.

The Trial Court Ruling

It is alleged that the husband and the wife were married in 2001 and had a son in 2007. They separated in 2013, and the husband filed for divorce three years later. During the litigation of their case, the mother had custody of the son sixty percent of the time while the father enjoyed custody forty percent of the time, but there was no formal arrangement. In the final order dissolving the marriage, the court ordered the arrangement to remain in place until a custody evaluation could be conducted. Following the evaluation, the court ordered the parents joint custody, with equal time with the child. The mother then appealed, arguing the court abused its discretion in issuing the order.

Evidence Weighed in an Appeal of an order Dictating Child Custody

An appellate court tasked with reviewing a custody order will examine it for an abuse of discretion and apply the substantial evidence standard to the trial court’s findings of fact. In custody cases, a court will abuse its discretion if it issues an order despite no reasonable basis that the edicts in the order are in the best interest of the child. A court can also abuse its discretion by making wrong legal assumptions or applying improper criteria. Finally, a trial court can abuse its discretion by failing to maintain impartiality, issuing a decision not based on the evidence presented, or failing to use its reasoned judgment.

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Sharing custody of a child can be difficult, as parents and the courts have to not only determine what is in the best interest of the child, but also must develop a way for parents to exercise their rights. The struggles of sharing custody are often exacerbated during the holidays, as parents frequently wish to share time and make memories with their children and are reluctant to relinquish any time. There are ways parents can avoid some of the heartaches of sharing custody during the holidays, though, and it is prudent for anyone trying to determine how to protect custody rights during important events to speak to a knowledgeable California child custody attorney to discuss their options.

Shared Custody of a Child During the Holidays

When parents who share custody of a child are finalizing their custody arrangements with the courts, it is advisable for them to request that the courts determine custody exchanges on important holidays as part of any decree. Otherwise, exchanges during holidays will comply with the standard schedule the court develops.

In some cases, certain holidays may be more important to one parent than the other. For example, if parents practice different religions, they may celebrate important holidays on different dates. In other instances, a holiday will be of equal importance to both parents. Depending on how each parent feels about the holiday in question, there are several different ways in which they can share custody. Regardless of which option parents choose, establishing a clear holiday schedule ahead of time can help ease their anxiety regarding spending time with their children on important days. Continue Reading ›

Many times when the parents of a child end their relationship, they will turn to the courts to decide issues of custody and child support. There are numerous factors that a court should consider in determining an appropriate custody arrangement and support obligation. For example, a court will typically evaluate how much time each parent spends with a child in calculating child support obligations. Recently, a California court discussed a court’s discretion, or lack thereof, in determining an appropriate support obligation, in a case in which timesharing that did not exist was accredited to the father. If you share custody of a child and you or your co-parent wish to seek child support, you should speak to a trusted California child support attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and father were parents of a minor child. The mother sought child support, after which the court entered an order based on guidelines that required the court to determine the approximate amount of time the higher-earning parent spent with the child and use that number to calculate an appropriate support obligation. The trial court had attributed a twenty-nine percent timeshare to the father, even though for several years, he had no visitation with the child.

Reportedly, the mother appealed the order as it pertained to the periods in which the father did not spend time with the child, which was approximately five years. The court found in favor of the mother and ruled that the order must be recalculated based on the father’s actual timeshare of the child during the disputed period.

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In any family law dispute involving custody, the court’s primary concern is what is in the child’s best interest. While normally it is beneficial for a child to have ongoing contact with both parents, in cases involving domestic violence, the court may decline to grant a parent custody or visitation rights, unless the evidence demonstrates it should rule otherwise. In a recent California case, the court discussed what evidence is needed to demonstrate that a party has perpetrated domestic violence and that awarding custody to that party would be detrimental to a child. If you are immersed in a disagreement over custody that involves allegations of domestic violence, it is prudent to speak to a dedicated California child custody attorney to discuss what measures you may be able to take to safeguard the interests of you and your child.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the mother met the father when she attended his karate class. She was thirteen at the time, and he was thirty-four. When the mother turned eighteen, they married and shortly thereafter had a daughter. The mother filed for divorce when the child was eighteen months old. The mother sought sole legal and physical custody of the daughter with limited visitation rights awarded to the father, alleging that the father had sexually molested her when she was a minor and routinely engaged in acts of domestic violence against the mother, in the form of stalking and verbal assault.

Allegedly, the court found that there was insufficient evidence that the father perpetrated acts of domestic violence and awarded the father joint custody, ordering a schedule that would allow him to have physical custody approximately thirty percent of the time. The mother appealed, arguing that the court abused its discretion in finding that the father should be granted custody rights.

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Given the global economy and the ease of establishing a life outside of the United States, it is not uncommon for a family to reside in another country for an extended duration. When a couple that regularly spends time in other countries decides to divorce, however, their international travel habits may present challenges in terms of determining custody. The hurdles of protecting custody rights when the parties have lived abroad were demonstrated in a recent California case in which the parties lived overseas prior to seeking a divorce. If your child’s co-parent is attempting to keep your child in another country, it is essential to retain a diligent California child custody attorney to help you fight to protect your parental rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the mother and father were married in Italy in 2006 and lived there until 2008 when they moved to California. They had two children in 2009 and 2010 while living in California. In 2016, they moved back to Italy as a family, but the mother and the father became United States citizens prior to moving. They eventually gave up all of their assets and property in California and established a life in Italy. The children attended school in Italy and routinely received medical treatment there as well.

Allegedly, in 2018, the mother and the father began experiencing marital problems, and the mother advised that she wished to move back to California with the children. The parties never agreed regarding where the children would reside, however. The mother moved back to California, and in 2019 the father filed for divorce in Italy. The mother then traveled to Italy and returned to California with the children. At that time, the children had lived in Italy for two years and nine months. The mother subsequently filed a divorce action in California in which she sought, in part, sole legal and physical custody of the children. The father then filed a petition for the return of the children under the Hague convention.

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In many instances, a parent will not agree with a court’s order regarding the custody of a child. While there are appropriate means for asking a court to modify or reconsider a custody order, some parents, unfortunately, take matters into their own hands and simply disregard a court-ordered custody agreement, and withhold a child from the other parent. Fortunately, however, the law provides avenues for parents who are seeking to remedy the unjust denial of access to their children. If you need assistance with a child custody matter, it is critical to engage a trusted California child custody attorney to assist you in protecting your rights.

Establishing Child Custody

Under California law, both parents are presumed to have a right to custody and visitation. Thus, if no existing order establishes custody of a child, either parent can seek court intervention to establish custody. A written order is essential as it helps parents protect their rights in the event a co-parent attempts to withhold a child. A court asked to decide a custody matter will set forth an order that is in the child’s best interest after considering factors such as the health of the child and each parent, the child’s needs, the parents’ resources, and any other relevant factors. It is important that the order contains clear provisions for the division of custody, including dates and times for exchanges and methods for resolving any disputes.

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