California law on domestic abuse and child custody

Domestic violence is a serious problem that we should all strive to avoid. Sadly, many parents and children in Oakland are the victims of domestic violence. A parent may try to leave their abusive partner and will want to have sole custody of their child to protect their child from further violence. Is this always possible?

California law on domestic violence and child custody

Under California law, if a parent is seeking child custody and is found to have committed an act of domestic violence against the other parent there is a rebuttable presumption that awarding sole physical custody to the parent who committed the act of domestic violence is not in the child’s best interests. This is based on the preponderance of the evidence.

How can this presumption be rebutted?

This presumption can be rebutted, meaning that under the right circumstances the parent that committed the abuse can be awarded custody rights. The presumption can be rebutted if it can be shown that awarding custody to that party is in the child’s best interests. Such a decision may be in the child’s best interests if it is desirable for the child to have frequent and ongoing contact with both parties.

In addition, the perpetrator of the abuse must successfully complete a treatment program as well as an alcohol or drug abuse program if necessary. The perpetrator of the abuse must also successfully complete a parenting class if necessary. If the perpetrator of the abuse is on probation, parole or there is a restraining order, they must comply with the terms of the probation, parole or restraining order. Finally, the perpetrator of the abuse must not have committed any further acts of abuse.

Custody is not a given

It is not a given that a person who commits domestic violence will automatically be denied or granted custody. While the presumption is that they should not be awarded custody this presumption can be rebutted in the right circumstances. Ultimately, any custody decisions must be in the best interests of the child.