Courts are hesitant to strip parents of their rights. In child custody disputes, many parents want to block the other parent’s access to the children. If the parent is a good parent, courts are reluctant to interfere with their parental rights. However, if the parent is unfit and poses a danger to your children, you may be able to prove this in court and get sole custody. The Ventura child custody lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain some ways to prove that a parent is unfit in California. Call our law offices today for a free consultation on your child custody case.
Factors to Show a Parent is Unfit in CA
When a court is presented with a child custody dispute, the judge’s primary consideration is always the child’s best interests. However, the court must also weigh this against the parents’ rights. If a parent is less than stellar, it may not be enough for a judge to strip them of custody. Most parents try their best, and the court does not penalize them for being imperfect parents. However, more serious conduct like violence or abuse can be grounds to strip the parent of custody entirely. If a parent is a danger to the child or their growth, the court may revoke the parent’s custody rights entirely and give the other parent sole custody of their shared children.
There are many factors that the court looks at when making a determination of what the child’s best interests are and whether the child should be taken away from a parent:
- The child’s health and safety
- The parent’s history of abuse against the child in question, another child, the other parent, or another romantic partner
- The contact each parent has with the child
- The parent’s abuse of drugs or alcohol
Family Code 3011 specifically requires a court to look at these factors, but it also allows the court to look at other factors that might be relevant. This means that things like the availability of child care in the household, risks from other adults in the household, and other related factors may also be considered.
How to Prove You Should Have Sole Custody
In most cases, courts will not take allegations of physical abuse or drug abuse at face value. The same statute that authorizes a judge to use these factors in determining the child’s best interests also authorizes the court to ask for outside corroboration before using these factors. That means that if you claim that the other parent abused you or your child, or if you claim that they are a drug addict or an alcoholic, the court may require evidence of this.
Keeping a record of abuse is important to build a case for sole custody. If you or your child is ever harmed by the other parent, you should report the incident to the police and tell someone else about the incident. If you or your child has marks or injuries, take pictures of those injuries. Evidence of a police report, a record of conviction for child abuse, previous protection from abuse orders, reports to child protective services, and other evidence can help corroborate your claims of abuse and help you prove the other parent is unfit.
The same is true for drug use, drug abuse, or alcohol abuse. If you have enough evidence to report the parent of your child to the police for drug use, having a record of drug possession might show the court they are an unfit parent. Additionally, reports to law enforcement or child protective services can help corroborate your claims as well.
Other claims may also require evidence to convince a court that the parent is unfit. While the law does not permit the court to require corroborating evidence for claims that the child’s health or safety is in danger at the other parent’s house, providing evidence will make your case stronger. For instance, photos of the dangerous conditions at the other parent’s household or reports from child protective services are all excellent evidence that can help show the court why you deserve sole custody.
Filing a Claim for Sole Custody
A court will entertain a claim for sole custody from a variety of situations. If you are going through a divorce with children, the court will have to make a decision as to who takes custody of the children. The same is true in cases of legal separation. You can also file for a child custody order any time you move out of the same household as the other parent or if you never lived together in the first place.
Courts can also hear claims for sole custody at other times. If you do not have a child custody order in place or if you need your child custody order modified to sole custody, you can file with the appropriate court at any time.
Call Our Ventura Child Custody Lawyers for a Free Consultation Today
If you or your child is in immediate danger, call the police. If you need help removing your child from their other parent’s household and claiming sole custody, call the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today. Our Ventura family lawyers help parents in custody disputes, child support cases, and other family law cases. To schedule a free legal consultation, call our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.