People have children, sometimes they marry, and sometimes they remarry. The parental figures in a child’s life often include both natural parents and step-parents. That can raise complicated legal questions about who should be involved in the proceedings when parents, step-parents, or a combination of both decide to divorce. California’s Fifth District Court of Appeals took on that issue in a recent decision.
Father and Mother were never married but are the natural parents of Daughter. Mother married Step-Father in August 2008, and the couple had a child before separating in April 2010. Father was in prison in Washington State for an undisclosed crime at the time, and he is scheduled to be released in August 2019.
The divorce proceedings between Mother and Step-Father were highly contentious, according to the Court. A trial judge in 2010 issued a restraining order against Step-Father after Mother claimed that he had struck her with an open hand and punched her in the face and provided photographic evidence of bruises and a black eye. Step-Father, meanwhile, claimed that Mother had also been abusive to him. He cited a 2012 incident in which Mother allegedly came to his house intoxicated, assaulted a woman inside the home, and threatened to assault another. Mother was arrested after this incident. The trial judge then issued a temporary restraining order against Mother and awarded Step-Father temporary custody of Daughter. The judge later revised the order to allow for joint custody.