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Mother v. Father (Changed Circumstance When Deployment Forces Child To Be Left With Sex Offender Step-mother)

Practice Area: Child custody

Outcome: In favor of client.

Description: Represented Mother in a child custody case where Father had been given physical custody of child. Early on, father was in the armed services and stationed in South Carolina. Father had remarried and his wife had pled guilty to the offense of lewd act on a minor, requiring her to register as a sex offender. Father was ordered to deploy leaving child in the care of sex-offender wife. The Superior Court of San Diego found that wife's guilty plea to a lewd act on a minor and father's deployment leaving the child in the wife's care was not a changed circumstance and that wife was not a threat to the child. Custody was left with father. Mother appealed on the ground that findings required under §§3030 and 3030.5 of the family code were not made. On appeal the court held the trial court erred as a matter of law by finding that the father's wife's conviction was not a changed circumstance. The Court of Appeals also found error in that the trial court made no statement of reasons on the record or in writing. On remand back to Superior Court, custody was reversed and mother (our client) was awarded custody of the little girl.

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