Mother Seeks Sole Custody

Coming off the escalator there seemed to be hundreds of people waiting in front of a courtroom, next to the one I planned to visit.  It was crazy, people everywhere.  I was looking for the media because there were so many people.  As I waited for the bailiff to open the doors, my curiosity got the best of me.  So I got some heart and asked the guy standing next to me.  As soon as I started, their courtroom door opened, “What is this case for? Why are there so many people?”  “It’s a domestic violence murder; we’re here for the victim.”

My heart dropped to my stomach.  “Oh, I’m so sorry,” he didn’t respond and flowed into the courtroom with everyone else.  I wanted to go into the room so badly to hear the case, but all types of emotions came over me, fear, sadness as I recollected my own experience.  Although I am interested in reviewing domestic violence cases, I knew then that I was not ready for this one.  That on that day, walking into that courtroom to hear the case was not a good idea for me.  I continued to wait for the family court doors to open.

Judge P. Rosenstein

1:30pm – Bailiff opens the door, begin to call the calendar.  I immediately find a spot, with a clear view, and close enough to listen carefully.  I’ve been through this rodeo before, so it’s easy to remember the procedures.  Yet it’s quite comforting being present as an observer and not a litigant.  As I survey the room, checking out those in attendance; i.e.,  body language, signs of nervousness, where people sit, if one is looking side eyed at another or trying everything in their power to avoid looking in a certain direction at all.  Across from me, sits a woman with a petite built, dark hair, nicely dressed.  She must be a litigant.

First case the parties are in pro-per the Bailiff asks the parties if they already participated in mediation.

1:40pm – Interpreter present and waiting for litigants
1:45pm – Party enters the courtroom and the Bailiff ask mother if the father is present?

Mendoza v Mendoza  – Pro-per 
Petitioner: Mother       Respondent: Father (not present)

Judge Rosenstein states that the mother filed a Request for Custody Visitation and asks if proof of service was filed.  The mother confirmed yes, it was, but the respondent was not present in court.  The judge ordered service as complete and began reviewing the file, and asked if the father disappeared. The mother stated yes and request both full and physical custody.

RULING: Judge Rosenstein granted sole legal and physical custody with reasonable visitation.  The mother says she is disappointed that the father did not show up in court as she was hoping he would.
Judge Rosenstein appeared very confident in her decision stating that she is unable to grant and enforce sole physical custody but understands that the mother requires legal custody in order to make legal decisions on behalf of the child’s medical, education, and housing on behalf of the child.  The judge thanked the mother for attending and hoped the father becomes involved in his child’s life.

Wow!  That is it?  That was quick.  The mother exits the courtroom, seeming relieved to go on with her day.  I definitely know what that feels like, however, you can never gauge these type of circumstances because as long as there’s another concerned party, especially concerning family court, it’s probably not offer.  The father can return at any time, deciding to file for a modification order.

Single Parent Counselor Commentary  

Location: San Diego, CA, USA
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