After a decision to divorce or separate is made, one parent sometimes moves out while the other parent stays in the family home with the children. We are often asked about the effect of this move on court decisions relating to custody and visitation.
Divorce and legal separation are difficult events for everyone involved, especially children. Children, particularly younger ones, often do not understand what is happening. Even older children may not understand the full implications of the end of an adult couple’s relationship. For these reasons, the guiding principle for California custody and visitation decisions is the “best interest” of the parties’ children.
California law does not allow a court to consider short absences of a parent from the family home in its custody and visitation decisions as long as the following three criteria are met:
- The party showed an interest in maintaining custody or visitation;
- The party either maintains or makes reasonable efforts to maintain regular contact with the child; and
- The party shows no intention to abandon the child.
Even if these criteria are not met, a California judge will not consider a temporary absence or relocation from the family home if it is due to actual or threatened domestic violence. For example, if a husband has been physically abusive toward his wife and she moves out of the family home as a result, the court will not hold her absence from the home against her in its custody and visitation decisions.
These laws do not apply to a parent who has abandoned a child or to a parent who is excluded from the home by a court-issued protective or restraining order.The health and well-being of your children are important not only to you, but to the State of California. In hotly contested child support matters, you need an attorney to fight for you and your child. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in divorce, child custody, and child support matters. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can protect you and your children: (415) 293-8314.