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Child custody concerns lead to children placed in county's care

A case in another county that demonstrates that the best interests of children would be protected by courts wherever possible may be of interest to California residents. Two young children were recently placed in the temporary care of the county after a child custody hearing. However, the 2-year-old and 7-year-old children were in another state at the time while on vacation with their paternal grandparents. The court ordered their immediate return.

The hearing followed a sheriff's report about an undercover informant buying methamphetamine from the mother in the presence of her child. When confronted, the mother admitted to the social use of the drug, but claimed that the kids were in their father's care when the transaction had taken place. The mother did not attend the hearing. The children's parents were never married, and the father is awaiting DNA results to prove paternity of the older child, while a signed affidavit claims paternity of the 2-year-old.

The court stated that, until paternity could be proved, the father has no legal claim over the children. The father claimed to have taken care of the children throughout 2013, and also on numerous occasions after the mother abandoned them. However, the court has some concerns relating to the father’s juvenile record, his denial to undergo a drug test when visited and indications of mounting aggression between him and his current girlfriend, who also has a drug problem. The juvenile court judge acknowledged the father having no convictions in his adult life and holding down two jobs.

The father related his desire to fight for child custody, but he claimed that he lacked the financial means to do so, whereupon the judge ordered counsel to be appointed for him. In addition, the court ordered a guardian to be appointed to investigate the father’s background and his home. Parents in California who want to pursue gaining custody of their children, but do not have the necessary knowledge of the legal procedures required, may find comfort knowing that help and guidance is available.

Source:, "Children go to county, for now", Angela Shepherd, June 4, 2014

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