Relationships after divorce or legal separation can have serious implications on child custody and visitation orders. The California family court is obligated to award custody and visitation based on what is in the best interest of the child. If the other parent has become involved with someone who has a history as a sex offender or child abuser, you may successfully get custody and visitation modified. A consultation with a family law attorney can help you understand the process and how to best present your case in family court in order to protect your child.
Child Custody Law in California
In California, certain violent crimes restrict custody or unconditional visitation awards. Under California law:
Registered Sex Offender Or Child Abuse Conviction: Neither custody nor unsupervised visitation may be awarded to a parent or any other person who either (i) is required to be registered as a sex offender under Ca Penal § 290 where the victim was a minor, or (ii) has been convicted of specified child abuse offenses (under Ca Penal §§ 273a, 273d or 647.6) . . . unless the court finds there is “no significant risk to the child” and states its reasons in writing or on the record. [Ca Fam § 3030(a)]
If you discover that the other parent is allowing someone who has a background that includes a sexual offense or child abuse to have access to your children, you will need to file paperwork to modify custody and visitation. A child and custody order can be modified at any time as long as the parent or other party requesting the modification can show that there has been a change in circumstances negatively affecting the welfare of the child.
Signs of Child Abuse
Staying vigilant is the main responsibility and duty of a responsible parent. In situations where a sex offender or child abuser has contact with your child, sudden or unusual changes in your child can be red flags of inappropriate behavior that should never be ignored. Some signs include but are not limited to:
- Evidence of abuse of a child through physical injury or emotional withdrawal.
- The child suddenly has a desire to increase or decrease visitation.
- Sudden alteration of the child’s normal school and activities schedule.
- The other parent changes residence without appropriate notice.
Even if your child is not exhibiting signs of abuse, they could be in harm’s way by having contact with a person who has sexual and child abuse in their background. Understandably, requesting a change based on what may happen can be difficult and intimidating to present in court. A consultation with a California family law attorney can help you take steps to protect your child. It can also help you prepare a case that will articulate your concern for your child’s best interests and protect them from living with people that may cause them harm.