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Arnold, Peterson & Criste Arnold, Peterson & Criste
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Nonparent Custody and Visitation

Nonparent Custody Attorney

Grandparent Rights

attorneys grandparents Grandparents, step-parents and others are being called upon to assume in the day to day care and rearing of children in record numbers. A variety of adults, whether related by blood or marriage or not, may need to step forward and assume the role of parent when children's best interests require it. Such situations are often temporary and sometimes not. Disputes may arise between these grandparent caretakers and their own children over who should continue the primary parenting role of such minors. It can be the case that a child's best interests is not to be living with a parent having medical, legal, economic, or psychological difficulties. Unfortunately California law concerning nonparent custody is complicated and difficult, and favors biology over nurturing (based primarily on United States Supreme Court rulings). Still, there are circumstances where nonparents may be awarded custody over a parent's objection.

California Family Code section 3040 creates an order of preference for the custody of children which begins with custody to both, or to either, parent. This parental preference is limited only by the best interests of children where parental custody can be demonstrated to be detrimental to children. Section 3040 provides that if custody should not be or is not granted to either parent, custody may be awarded to the person or persons in whose home the child has been living in a "wholesome and stable" environment. These persons are often grandparents.

Family Code section 3041 creates a legal presumption in favor of parents, which a challenger may only overcome by presenting to the Family Court " clear and convincing evidence" that "granting custody to a parent would be detrimental to the child and that granting custody to the nonparent is required to serve the best interest of the child."

"Clear and convincing" evidence means evidence 'so clear as to leave no substantial doubt' or evidence which is 'sufficiently strong to command the unhesitating assent of every reasonable mind'. The most difficult burden to satisfy in American law is the familiar "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of criminal prosecutions. The easiest is the "preponderance of the evidence" standard. The preponderance standard may be likened to the scales tipping slightly in favor of one party - 51% - meaning that something that must be proved is only slightly more probable to be true than not. Clear and convincing proof is said to require proof to an 80 to 85% certainty.

In grandparent or other nonparent custody cases there is a valuable exception to the clear and convincing evidence standard under this statute that makes it quite possible for grandparents and others to obtain an award of physical custody. FC section 3041(c) defines "detriment to the child" as: "includ[ing] the harm of removal from a stable placement of a child with a person who has assumed, on a day-to-day basis, the role of his or her parent, fulfilling both the child's physical needs and the child's psychological needs for care and affection, and who has assumed that role for a substantial period of time." This should give you a ray of hope - it is the key that may unlock the door for you.

If an applicant can show by a preponderance of the evidence that they have already assumed this role of stable placement the "clear and convincing" burden in favor of bio-parents evaporates. In such situations, courts will find in favor on nonparents.

If Court assistance must be sought, this area of family law requires competent and sensitive legal counsel.

Contact Arnold, Peterson & Criste today for a Free Initial Consultation concerning your grandparent custody or visitation matter.

grandparent rights palm desert

We serve grandparents and step-parents particularly within the desert cities of Palm Springs, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, Joshua Tree, Blythe, Hemet, Twenty-Nine Palms, Cathedral City, Indio, Desert Hot Springs, Yucca Valley, Riverside, and Rancho Cucamonga!

Testimonials & Endorsements

  • “Not only is Mr. Peterson’s knowledge of the law beyond measure, he’s able to articulate it so it’s understandable.”
    If you are going through a divorce, The Law Offices of Arnold, Peterson & Criste is in my opinion the best option available. Mr. Peterson and his assistant Jordyn are top notch. Not only is Mr. Peterson’s knowledge of the law beyond measure, he’s able to articulate it so it’s understandable. He was able to navigate my emotions and help my uphill battle to receive proper visitation as a father. Jordyn never hesitated to reach out within the same business day if documents were needed or for any question I had about the process. Thanks to the team, we resolved the divorce healthfully. I couldn’t be more grateful.
    - Josh Arguijo
  • “I needed the best analysis and advice possible. I found Attorney Thurman Arnold III in Palm Springs.”
    I am a Veteran and Retired Deputy Sheriff. My divorce involved complicated property distribution and spousal support issues. I spent considerable time looking for the best Counsel I could find before I negotiated with my ex-wife and her Attorney. In fact, my case was in another county, but that didn't matter. I needed the best analysis and advice possible. I found Attorney Thurman Arnold III in Palm Springs. Attorney Arnold is a BAR Certified Family Law Specialist. In my humble opinion the best! His review of my case and how "Moore Marsden" property division applied was invaluable. His guidance saved me $30,000 dollars. Thank you, Thurman!
    - Jeff Jones
  • “Mike is adept at managing expectations and being very fair and measured.”
    Needed to modify a settlement and hired Mike Peterson. Mike is very, very knowledgeable and experienced. When you are going through a divorce or child custody issues, it is the most terrifying and stressful experience. Mike is adept at managing expectations and being very fair and measured. I wish I had hired him initially to get it all done straight the first time around. He is very responsive and communicative and understands the client well. Good luck going through this process - have a good guide like Mike without a doubt.
    - Donika McKelvie
  • “I would highly recommend him and the firm”
    Micheal Peterson is very knowledgeable of law and can help you make the best decisions for your family. He does is job with integrity. He helps with giving discounts when he can . I would highly recommend him and the firm . Very good staff .
    - Vincent Hall
  • “Very professional, honest, and handled everything without a hiccup.”
    Arnold, Peterson & Criste are a class act. Very professional, honest, and handled everything without a hiccup. When a year had passed, he and Jordyn contacted me to let me know I still had retainer on the books! I had forgot and they sent me the money anyway! For this I am very grateful and cannot recommend them enough. You won’t go wrong with Thurman Arnold. He is definitely the guy to have on your side.
    - Matt Feenstra
  • “Simply the Best of the Best!!!”
    I Highly Recommend Michael C. Peterson at the Law Office of Thurman W. Arnold!!! I hired Michael for my custody case and he is very knowledgeable and took the time to educate me on the process so we can put together a winning strategy. He fought for me and my children in court and successfully won our case. There are no words to describe how grateful and appreciative I am for Michaels service!!! If you are sitting on the fence on which Attorney to hire, do yourself a favor and hire Michael. I would not recommend anyone else!!! Simply the Best of the Best!!!
    - John and Lukes Tube
  • “Mike amazes me by his knowledge of my case, made me feel like I was his only client.”

    I reached out to this law firm 2 years ago when my life was falling apart. My case was assigned to attorney Michael Peterson. I didn't know much about him except few reviews on google but I'm glad I hit the jackpot. Mike amazes me by his knowledge of my case, made me feel like I was his only client. He's very responsive, respectful and and goes above and…

    - Damaris M.
  • “He and Michael Peterson are truly masters of their craft.”
    When my clients have family law issues, I routinely refer them to Thurman Arnold. He and Michael Peterson are truly masters of their craft. Family law can be an unwieldy beast, but they handle it with precision and finesse.
    - Edward Cross

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