Noble v. Superior CourtAnnotate this Case
Desirae and Forestt have two children, now eight and five years old. Desirae filed a dissolution of marriage petition. She separately requested a domestic violence restraining order against Forestt; that case was dismissed after Desirae failed to serve him. The family court granted the dissolution petition by default and awarded Desirae sole custody of the children. Desirae moved to Utah to join the children, who were living with her parents. Forestt later claimed he was unaware of the divorce proceeding and believed they were sending the children to Utah so they could work on their marriage. Forestt moved to set aside the default, claiming he had not been served properly and sought to prevent Desirae from leaving the state with the children. Desirae obtained a temporary domestic violence restraining order from a Utah court and submitted to the family court evidence that she had been subjected to domestic violence for several years. The family court set aside the default and awarded joint custody of the children to Forestt.
The court of appeal vacated the order. Family Code section 30441 establishes a rebuttable presumption that it is not in the child’s best interest to award joint or sole legal or physical custody to a parent who a court has found to have committed domestic violence against the other parent within the previous five years. The family court erred in failing to apply the presumption.