Sacramento Divorce Lawyer Discusses the Relevance of Sexual Conduct in Custody Disputes
Have you ever wondered if your sexual preferences, either for partners or behaviors, might impact your custody dispute? Lots of people have former partners who threaten to use their sexual past against them, not realizing its rarely relevant to a custody dispute.
California Law specifically states that a party’s sexual conduct is not relevant in awarding custody unless there is compelling evidence that it has a significant bearing on the child’s welfare. Furthermore, until the enactment of domestic partnership legislation, homosexuality could not be determinative in and of itself in awarding custody, but it could be one factor. However, contemporary courts would probably conclude it now has no relevance at all because of changes in how same sex couples are treated in the court.
There are two special areas of concern relating to sexual conduct in custody disputes: parties required to register as a sex offender as a result of conduct toward a minor, and rape. A person who is required to register as a sex offender as a result of conduct toward a victim who is a minor may not be awarded physical or legal custody of, or unsupervised visitation with, any child unless the court finds that there is no significant risk to the child and states its reasons in writing or on the record. A person who is convicted of rape may not be awarded custody of, or visitation with, a child conceived of that rape.
The bottom line is that all custody awards are made according to the best interests of the child, and the child’s health, safety and welfare are the primary concern in deciding what is in the child’s best interests. Courts have a lot of latitude in making these kinds of determinations, but generally, parties who have unorthodox sexual preferences are not likely to have them impact the custodial arrangement unless there is a showing of harm to the child. In any custody dispute, its always better to come to an agreement about where the children will live and when they will spend time with the other parent, rather than leaving it to a court to decide.
If you are involved in a contentious (or not contentious) custody dispute, or any other family law matter, be it support, divorce, property or paternity, you may benefit from having an attorney involved. The attorneys at Sagaria Law can assist you with all aspects of your family law case. We offer a free consultation, thirty minutes in length, either via phone or in person at any one of our six Northern California locations: Sacramento, Fremont, Redwood City, San Jose, Monterey and Salinas. Call today 1-800-941-6730 or visit www.sagarialaw.com to schedule your free family law consultation.