What Parental Rights Do Sex Offenders Have?
Child custody is complicated under any circumstances, and even more so when a parent is a registered sex offender. A sex offense conviction can have a significant affect on parental rights. If a parent is a registered sex offender or convicted of a sexual act against a minor, the court could deny both custody and visitation, while still requiring that parent to pay child support.
What Parental Rights Can Be Lost with a Sex Offense Conviction?
Under California law, parents have both rights and responsibilities concerning their children.
- Most parents have the right to custody, care, companionship, and management of their children.
- They have a right to regular contact, and to make medical and educational decisions for the child.
- Both parents have a responsibility to contribute to the maintenance of the child, and to provide accommodation, food, clothing, education, and medical care.
A parent convicted of a sex offense could lose all normal parental rights under the law while still being held responsible for the child’s support.
Does It Matter Whether or Not the Sex Crime Was Committed Against a Child?
Yes, it matters. California courts presume that a child is at significant risk if he or she is living with a parent who is a registered sex offender (for a sex offense against the child), or a parent who has committed a felonious act against a minor. Before custody or unsupervised visitation is allowed, the court will require the convicted parent to prove that the child will not be at significant risk.
Family law courts are cautious in protecting the safety of children. Parents who are registered sex offenders or who have been convicted of a felony act against a minor will have difficulty overturning this legal presumption. The most likely outcome is supervised visitation.
What Does the Law State about Child Custody or Visitation for Sex Offenders?
Under state law, no person shall be granted physical or legal custody of a child, or unsupervised visitation with a child, if anyone living in that person’s household is required to register as a sex offender because of a felony conviction in which the victim was a minor. The only exception is if the court finds that there is no significant risk to the child and states its reasons for that finding in writing or on the record. Unless a custody or visitation order is issued by the court, it is against the law for any person to permit or cause the child to visit or remain in the custody of the convicted parent without the consent of the custodian or legal guardian of the child.
What Happens When a Parent Is Denied Custody or Visitation?
The court may deny custody and visitation for a parent who is a registered sex offender or has been convicted of a felony against a minor while still ordering him or her to pay child support. In such cases, child support may be paid through the local child support agency. Courts are prohibited from disclosing the residential address or workplace of the custodial parent or the school the child attends, unless it finds that it is in the best interests of the child.
If you are a convicted sex offender seeking child custody or visitation, it is in your best interests to speak with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. Our San Diego child custody lawyers at Mattis Law, A.P.C. can explain your options under the law and help you pursue the best possible outcome in your case. Contact us at (858) 328-4400.