Appellate Pro Bono Child Custody Case

Co-counsel with Family Violence Appellate Project for appellant, who challenged a child custody award in favor of someone whom the trial court found had perpetrated domestic violence. On appeal, Haynes and Boone argued that the trial court awarded joint physical custody of the parties’ child without applying California Family Code section 3044, which establishes a mandatory rebuttable presumption that it is detrimental to a child’s best interests for the court to place the child in the custody of a domestic violence perpetrator. We also argued on appeal that the trial court altered a final custody order even though the defendant never met his burden of establishing that there had been a significant change of circumstances that would warrant such a change.

The Court of Appeal reversed the de facto joint custody order. It agreed on both of the grounds for reversal that were raised on appeal. The Court also remanded to the trial court with instructions that it apply the rebuttable presumption under section 3044, and that it not alter the parties’ custody arrangement unless defendant can show a significant change of circumstances. Marco Pulido argued the case before the Fifth District Court of Appeal in August 2019.