In this appeal, Horvitz & Levy LLP, working with the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, obtained reversal of a trial court order that denied a mother’s request for expanded visitation rights with her son.
Our client, a single mother, lost custody of her son after the child's father alleged child abuse by her. The family court limited the mother to seeing the child only during four-hour monitored visits three times a month.
After a year of restricted visitation without incident, the mother sought to move to unmonitored visitation. The mother also sought a court order enforcing her rights to joint legal custody in light of the father’s interference with the mother’s exercise of her rights to legal custody. The mother provided undisputed evidence that the child enjoyed visitation, that the child felt safe in his mother’s care, and that the father had obstructed the mother’s communication with the child. Yet the trial court denied the mother’s request for an order enforcing her legal custody rights without explanation, and denied the request for unmonitored visitation because the mother continued to deny the father’s child abuse allegation.
Horvitz & Levy agreed to pursue an appeal from the trial court’s order on a pro bono basis. We argued that the trial court abused its discretion by arbitrarily denying the mother’s requests related to enforcement of her existing custodial rights, and by denying the visitation modification request without considering all of the factors relevant to the child’s best interests.
The California Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division One) reversed, directing the trial court to grant the mother’s requests related to enforcement of her legal custody rights and to reconsider the mother’s request for more liberal visitation.