To achieve the goal of regaining physical custody of your child you must affirmatively demonstrate that you have your children’s best interests and safety firmly in mind, and that you are already prepared to re-take physical custody of your child.

1.  Demonstrate Emotional Readiness.

One of the best things you can do to show the Court that you have your child's interests in mind and that you are willing to take concrete steps to be able to spend more time with your child is to take a parenting class.

Online Parenting Course - offers a 4-hour online parenting course that, per its web page, “is accepted as a distance learning provider in educating parents about protecting children during family disruption” in California. The course costs just $39.99, is offered online at your convenience, and a certificate of completion is automatically emailed to you on completion of the course.  I am not endorsing this particular online provider - there are others - but I note that it is reportedly approved for California,  is inexpensive, quick, and convenient.  Of course, a full length in-person parenting course is preferred.

2.  Demonstrate True Concern For Your Child's Well-Being

Proactively arranging for some counseling services to help your child get through the break up of his/her parents goes far towards demonstrating that you have your child's best interests in mind.

3.  Demonstrate Physical Readiness.

If you have not had physical custody of your child, it is critical to show the court that you are already prepared to take your child into your home.  A counselor who works with at-risk children and is generally aware of the types of things that social services look for had had some very useful comments:

•    Generally, the court wants to know that the child is physically safe in the environment. If you have roommates, it would be helpful to demonstrate that they have no criminal backgrounds.

•     Smoke detectors are a must for any household with children. They should be the new kind, with carbon monoxide detectors, which are now required by law.

•     Safety of the neighborhood is an important concern, so you should choose a neighborhood that is demonstrably safe for children if you can.

•     Children need their own beds. You need to demonstrate that you have a separate sleeping arrangement for your child while he/she is at your home. Extravagance is not required, but separate sleeping arrangments are.  If you have only a one-bedroom apartment, you could sleep on the couch and your child could sleep in your bed.  You could also buy an inexpensive child’s cot that folds up and stores under your bed. Whichever option you choose, you should also be able to testify truthfully that your child has his/her own bedding – i.e. sheets, pillow case, and bed.

•     Children need their own spaces.  Social Services would specifically look to see that each of your children have their own “space” for things like clothes and toys. A full-sized chest of drawers could provide clothing and toy storage, or a small dresser and a toy box could be used.  her again, fanciness is not required, but functionality is. 

•     You should be able to demonstrate that you have sufficient and appropriate clothing for your child at your home.

•     Your home must have the essentials for habitability: heat and A/C (or fans), working toilets, bathing facilities, running water, food storage, cooking facilities, etc.

•     Your home must be equipped with appropriate hygiene products: toothbrush, toothpaste, towels/washcloths, appropriate soap/shampoo.

•     A car seat is a necessary piece of equipment. A used car seat is better than none if it is safe, but a top of the line car seat shows that you put your child’s safety first.

•     Your refrigerator/cupboard should be stocked with child appropriate foods for when your child visits.

•     You should identify & confirm the availability of safe & appropriate school and/or childcare during any working hours in which you will have physical custody of your child.

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