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A court will always reconsider the issue of custody if there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the last court order of custody was determined. If there have been fights with the new girlfriend that are around the children or affect the children since the last court order, that would be sufficient for the court to reconsider the issue of custody.
The court will have to determine if the change in custody would be in the best interest of the child. That would compare the mother and the father, not extended relatives such as yourself. The court will have to determine factors such as would a change custody resolve any problems that the children are currently facing with the conflict. The court must determine what is causing these fights. Is it your daughter not moving on and accepting that the father is dating her best friend or is the father creating these fights.
Your daughter needs to be able to convince the court that she is not starting the fights and further, is not responding to the fights. Basically your daughter needs to just walk away from the argument so it does not cause her custody of the children. Much in these situations will turn upon credibility of the father and the mother as well as any disinterested 3rd parties. The court will view many other factors that will help it determine what is in the best interest of the child. The Code makes clear that custody and visitation determinations are to be made from the standpoint of the child's best interest (consistent with the § 3020 policies.. [Ca Fam §§ 3011, 3020, 3040, 3041] The equities, feelings and desires of the contesting parties are only a factor to the extent they affect the child's best interest.In making the "best interest" determination, the court can consider any "relevant" factors. [Ca Fam § 3011] The court "must look to all the circumstances bearing on the best interest of the minor child"However, among all the relevant factors, trial courts must consider the following (Ca Fam § 3011): 1. Child's Health, Safety, And Welfare: A "best interest" determination must take into account the child's health, safety and welfare. [Ca Fam § 3011(a); see also Ca Fam § 3020(a),(c)]. This is a paramount policy concern.2. History Of Physical Abuse: The court must also consider any history of abuse by one parent or any other person seeking custody against (Ca Fam § 3011(b)) the child, the person seeking custody, or the current spouse.As a prerequisite to consideration of allegations of physical abuse, the court may require "substantial independent corroboration" . . . including, but not limited to, written reports by law enforcement agencies, child protective services, etc. 3. Certain violent crimes restrict custody or unconditional visitation awards A. Registered Sex Offender Or Child Abuse Conviction: Neither custody nor unsupervised visitation may be awarded to a parent or any other person who either (i) is required to be registered as a sex offender under Ca Penal § 290 where the victim was a minor, or (ii) has been convicted of specified child abuse offenses (under Ca Penal §§ 273a, 273d or 647.6) . . . unless the court finds there is "no significant risk to the child" and states its reasons in writing or on the record. [Ca Fam § 3030(a)] B. Child Conceived By Rape: Without exception, no person convicted of rape pursuant to Ca Penal § 261 may be granted custody or visitation with respect to a child conceived by that act of rape. [Ca Fam § 3030(b)] C. First Degree Murder Of The Other Parent: Neither custody nor unsupervised visitation may be granted to a person convicted of first degree murder (Ca Penal § 189) of the child's other parent . . . unless the court finds there is no risk to the child's health, safety and welfare and states its reasons in writing or on the record. [Ca Fam § 3030(c)] D. History Of Drug And Alcohol Abuse: In determining the child's best interest, trial courts must also consider either parent's "habitual or continual illegal use of controlled substances" (as defined in Ca Hlth & S § 11000 et seq.) or "continual abuse of alcohol." [Ca Fam § 3011(d)] Before considering allegations of a parent's drug or alcohol abuse, the court may require "independent corroboration"--such as written reports from law enforcement agencies, courts, probation departments, social welfare agencies, medical and rehabilitation facilities, or other organizations providing drug and alcohol abuse services. [Ca Fam § 3011(d)] 4. Stability And Continuity Of Environment: Although not reduced to express statutory terms, a significant component of the "best interest" assessment is the policy goal of protecting a stable custody arrangement. "As we have repeatedly emphasized, the paramount need for continuity and stability in custody arrangements--and the harm that may result from disruption of established patterns of care and emotional bonds with the primary caretaker--weigh heavily in favor of maintaining ongoing custody arrangements." [Marriage of Burgess (1996) 13 Cal.4th 25, 32-33, 51 Cal.Rptr.2d 444, 449-450 (emphasis added); see Burchard v. Garay (1986) 42 Cal.3d 531, 538, 229 Cal.Rptr. 800, 804-805]5. Separation Of Siblings: California policy affords strong protection to sibling relationships. Absent compelling circumstances, such as extraordinary emotional, medical or educational need, an order separating siblings between custodial households ordinarily will be reversed as detrimental to the children's best interest. [Marriage of Williams (2001) 88 Cal.App.4th 808, 814-815, 105 Cal.Rptr.2d 923, 927-998] 6. Child's Wishes: The court must "consider" and give "due weight" to the wishes of children who are of "sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to custody." [Ca Fam § 3042(a); see also Ca Fam § 3030(c)(1)].
I tell you this so that you and your daughter can be as well prepared for court as possible and realize the factors the court truly consider in situations such as this.
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