Can the North County Family Court limit my rights as a father to parenting time only? In effect the ability to visit with my child but not to make important decisions in their life?
The short answer is yes. The duty of the Court to protect the “best interests of a child” has precedence over the “liberty interest” of a father if there is a genuine and compelling reason. A father’s interest in the care, custody and companionship of a child is a matter of liberty under the law. However, the Court has a duty, a legal obligation, to protect the best interests of a child.
Therefore, the responsibility of the State of California (Family Court) in safeguarding the physical and psychological well-being of a minor is more important in the eyes of the law than the personal interests of the father’s liberties as a parent. Yes, the North County Family Court may “limit my rights as a father to parenting time only.” This answer presumes one crucial fact: the father in this question is some form of threat to the physical and/or psychological well-being of his own child.
This may very well be the case in situations which involve domestic violence, alcohol or drug addiction, the presence or criminal activity or the failure to provide essentials such as food, clothing and shelter. If a child is not physically safe from harm by others or his or her own family, the State of California has a duty to protect the child once the matter is before the Court. If a child faces emotional or psychological abuse which is harmful to the well-being of that child and the Court is made aware of the situation, the Court has a duty to protect the best interests of the child which supersedes the liberty rights of a father.
It should also go without saying the answer of the question above with respect to the ability of the North County Family Court to “limit my rights as a father to parenting time only” would also apply to the mother of a child who fails to safeguard the physical or psychological well-being of her child.
These questions often arise in the context of domestic violence and divorce. You need skilled, experienced and proven divorce and family law attorney in these situations who can provide sound counsel. Protect your own interests and contact us or call 760-434-3330 to schedule an appointment for a remote or socially distanced consultation with one of our experienced Certified Family Law Specialists.