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Articles Posted in Child Custody

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Custody cases often produce custody evaluations and other sources of sensitive information. As such, certain documents may be deemed confidential and both parties are prohibited from disclosing any information in the document. If a party, or his or her attorney, discloses information in a confidential document it can result in adverse consequences.

This was illustrated in a recent case decided by a California appellate court, in which the court imposed sanctions on a wife’s attorney for revealing information contained in a confidential custody evaluation. If you are involved in a custody dispute, it is important to retain an experienced California family law attorney who will act in the best interest of both you and your child.

Facts Regarding the Divorce Actions

The wife had a child with her first husband. They divorced but were engaged in an ongoing custody dispute. The court ordered a custody evaluation and a psychological evaluation. The wife then married her second husband and gave birth to a second child. The second marriage dissolved, but the custody issue was unresolved. The first husband filed an affidavit in support of the second husband in the second action, alleging that the wife engaged in substantial misconduct involving both children.

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I am often asked, “What should I do to prepare for Family Court Services Mediation?”  The following are some tips to help you maximize your success at Family Court Services:

1. In custody disputes each party often tries to point the finger at the other party saying, “He is this” or “She did that”…  While putting down the other party may make you feel good, it will annoy or alienate the mediator. Don’t do it.

2. The focus of mediation has to the the child.  What is best for the child or in the child’s best interest.  Always focus on the child.  What is the child’s daily schedule?  Why is your proposed visitation schedule best for the child?  Why are your requested orders beneficial for the child? Why is the other party’s request bad or detrimental for the child?  Remember, the focus is not the other party. It is the child.

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It is not uncommon for either party in a divorce or custody proceeding to seek a modification of a court order. The non-moving party is entitled to respond to any request for a modification and can request affirmative relief. The non-moving party is not permitted to request relief that is not an alternative to the relief requested by the moving party, or that does not arise out of the same issues, however, as recently explained in a case arising out of a California Court of Appeals.  If you are in the process of deciding to end your marriage and you must determine a custody arrangement, it is important to retain an experienced California divorce attorney to assist you in protecting your rights.

Factual and Procedural Scenario

Husband and wife were married in November 2000. The wife knew the husband had been convicted of a sex crime, but she did not know the details of the crime, which was that he molested his stepdaughter from the time she was eight to twelve years old. The parties had a daughter in 2007 and separated in 2008. The wife filed for divorce in 2009 and sought custody of the daughter. The marriage was dissolved in 2010. The parties stipulated to share legal custody of the daughter, with the wife having primary physical custody. The father’s physical custody was limited to seven to twelve and a half hours weekly.

It is alleged that the husband filed a petition for modification, seeking a fifty-fifty split of physical custody. The wife filed three pleadings in response, in which she requested attorneys fees and costs associated with responding to the husband’s petition, and asked the court to require the husband’s custody time to be monitored, due to his prior criminal history. The court denied the husband’s request for a modification but granted the wife’s request for monitoring of the husband and for attorney’s fees. The husband appealed.

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While some people think of a child as only having two parents, that is not always the case. Custody disputes can be acrimonious and complex, but when there are three parties seeking parental rights in a custody case, determining an appropriate custody arrangement can be especially complicated. The guiding concern in all custody cases, however, is what is in the best interest of the child.

In a recent case arising from a California Court of Appeals, the court held that due to the child’s bond with three different adults, each adult should be legally recognized as the child’s parent. If you and your child’s co-parent cannot agree on what custody arrangement is in your child’s best interest, you should retain a skilled California child custody attorney to assist you in your pursuit of a suitable custody agreement.

Factual Background 

Reportedly, the husband and wife in question were married when the wife conceived a child with her coworker. The husband and wife remained married but allowed the coworker to have a parenting role with the child. The child subsequently developed a bond with the coworker and his family. The husband and wife then excluded the coworker from the child’s life, after which the co-worker filed a lawsuit seeking parental rights.

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