Legal Information: California


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September 12, 2023

Can a parent who committed violence get visitation?

When making a visitation order in a case in which an emergency protective order, protective order, or other restraining order has been issued, the court must consider whether it is in the best interest of the child to have unsupervised visitation or whether the visitation should be supervised by a third party, suspended, limited, or denied altogether.1 Your child may be able to give the judge his/her preference about the other parent’s visitation as long as the child is of “sufficient age and capacity [ability] to form an intelligent preference.” If the child is over 14 years old and wants to talk to the judge about visitation, the judge must allow the child to do so unless it is not in the child’s best interests. Children under 14 years old might be able to talk to the judge as well.2

If the abusive parent uses drugs or abuses alcohol, the judge could make the parent undergo tests for alcohol and illegal drug use if s/he decides that the parent is a frequent or habitual user. If the tests show that the abuser does use drugs or alcohol, this could be a factor that the judge considers when deciding whether or not to grant him/her visitation. When deciding if the parent is habitually using, one type of evidence the judge will consider is any convictions for illegal drug use or possession within the past 5 years.3

Note: If you are/were a victim of domestic violence and you believe that your California custody/visitation order puts your child in a dangerous situation with the other parent, you may want to contact the Family Violence Appellate Project. They work with low-income survivors of abuse in California who want to appeal a court order that was issued within the last 60 days (or who are defending against an appeal filed by the other parent) and who cannot afford to hire an attorney.

1 Cal. Fam. Code §§ 3031(c); 3100(b)
2 Cal. Fam. Code § 3042(a), (c), (d)
3 See Cal. Fam. Code § 3041.5

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