ACFLS
State Bar of California
AVVO
Santa Clara County Bar Association
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“Teen Mom” Considering Filing for Sole Custody After Baby Dad’s Arrest

Kailyn Lowry, from the MTV show “Teen Mom” may be seeking sole custody of her child, according to TMZ.com. Apparently the baby’s father, 19 year old Jonathan Rivera, was arrested for being under the influence of marijuana in February, 2011. TMZ reports that Kailyn and Jonathan currently share custody, but based on this new information, it looks like Kailyn might request that Jonathan no longer have the child in his care.

Per California law, depending on the outcome of Rivera’s arrest, Kailyn may have a good case. The California Family Code provides that “…it is the public policy of this state to assure that the health, safety and welfare of children shall be the court’s primary concern in determining the best interests of the child when making any orders regarding the physical or legal custody or visitation of children.” (Cal. Fam. Code §3020.) Additionally, Family Code section 3011 specifically provides that the court SHALL consider (among other relevant factors): “the habitual or continued illegal use of controlled substances or habitual or continual abuse of alcohol by either parent.”

Obviously there are many other factors to consider and we don’t know the full story here, but if the court were find that the baby’s father was habitually or continually using illegal drugs, the court could grant the mother sole legal and/or physical custody. With allegations of drug use, the court could order an emergency screening, which would allow a court appointed evaluator to interview all involved parties and provide the court with an opinion as to what is in the best interests of the child. The court could also order drug testing and other preventative measures, such as supervised visits.

At Mello & Pickering, LLP we handle custody and visitation issues of all types. Whether you have questions about your rights with regard to custody and visitation or are concerned for your child’s welfare due to the other parents’ actions, give us a call to set up a free 20 minute telephone conference or an in person meeting at (408) 288–7800.

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