Carlsbad Family Law Attorneys

Lost Sole Custody of Your Children? 10 Ways to Regain Your Child Custody Rights

Young boy at courthouse

When going through a divorce or legal separation, a California family court of law may grant you sole or joint physical custody of your children. These arrangements will be detailed in the custody order, which outlines each parent’s child custody and visitation rights.

Family courts don’t prefer one ruling over the other. Instead, sole or joint custody is awarded based on the children’s best interests.

If you were awarded sole custody of your children, then you may have been granted sole physical custody or sole legal custody, or both.

Speak with a custody attorney near you. Call (858) 371-5569 or contact us online today to set up a consultation at Griffith, Young & Lass.

Sole Physical Custody in CA

Sole physical custody is referred to in family law as primary physical custody. This is where you have total rights to control the children’s whereabouts, school enrollment, after-school care, housing arrangements, medical and dental appointments, as well as the planning of any holidays or vacations.

Sole physical custody also means that the child would live solely with you at all times. You can usually travel in and out of state without restrictions unless those details are listed in the court order.

The non-custodial parent can still see the children, only that individual’s rights are limited to approved court visitation. Under family law, the noncustodial parent has the right to frequent contact and visitations with the children. The court may order supervised visitation or no visitation for extreme cases, such as in those cases where the noncustodial parent is known to abuse drugs, alcohol, or commit violent acts, for instance.

If you were awarded sole physical custody over the children, and you recently lost that right, it could have been for a number of reasons.

Reasons for Losing Sole Custody

In most cases, the process of stripping you of sole physical custody begins with the other parent notifying the courts of some type of issue concerning your parentage over the children. The other parent may cite abuse, neglect, or some other serious issue that they deem is a danger to the children’s well-being.

The act of notifying the courts of any sole custody issues is known as a request for order. During this process, the alleging parent will provide a declaration to the court in addition to any evidence of wrongdoing. Evidence could consist of video evidence of any abuse or neglect, social media posts, text messages, or any other mediums to support their case.

If the family court judge believes that there is an immediate threat to the children’s safety, you might be stripped of sole physical custody right there and then.

If the judge believes that there is no imminent threat to the children, a child custody investigation will begin before a final ruling is issued.

The investigation will be conducted by a court-appointed special investigator who will begin looking into the allegations presented by the noncustodial parent.

If the investigation shows that your parentage is questionable after all, you could lose sole physical custody of the children.

Here are some of the common reasons you may lose sole custody of your children.

  • A History of Drug and/or Alcohol Use – Under Family Code 3011(d), when making a child custody determination, the family law courts will consider any habitual or continued illegal use of controlled substances, alcohol, or even the habitual or continual abuse of prescribed controlled substances. Read more about how drug and alcohol abuse can impact child custody visitation rights here.
  • Child Abuse – California Family Code 3011 states that when making a child custody determination, the court must consider any history of abuse by the parent against any children to whom the parent is related. Child abuse is often evident through indicators like bruises, cuts, scars, and other visible marks. Child abuse can be caused by the parent’s anger issues or it can be the result of inappropriate sexual contact initiated by the parent.
  • Domestic Violence or Spousal Abuse – Family Code 3044(a) states that child custody orders must take into account any history of abuse against the other parent. If you have ever committed domestic violence against the parent within the previous five years, a “rebuttable presumption” will take effect that indicates that joint or sole custody of the children will be detrimental to the children’s best interests.

These represent only a few reasons why sole custody may be lost. If you weren’t in the children’s lives prior to the divorce or child custody hearing, as in you lack intimate knowledge of the kids’ schooling, doctor visits, health, hobbies, and others, you could also lose sole physical custody of the children.

How to Get Your Child Back After Losing Sole CustodySad girl while parents fight

Losing sole physical and legal custody of the children can be an emotionally-draining affair. You want to do everything possible to regain custody in order to get back to how life was before the courts deemed you an unfit parent, or whatever other reason was given for stripping you of your sole custody rights.

How to Regain Sole Physical Custody of Your Child

If you've lost sole custody of your child, then here are some steps to take to possibly get them reinstated by a California family court judge:

  1. Look into the details of where it all went wrong
  2. Contact a qualified family attorney
  3. Take any contingency actions
  4. request a child custody re-evaluation
  5. Heed the court's requests
  6. Be patient
  7. Consider alternatives to sole custody
  8. Maintain a clean and safe environment for your children
  9. Drive safely
  10. Vet your contact list

Keep reading for a deeper dive into each of these!

Look into the Details of Where it All Went Wrong

This is a time to be extremely honest with yourself. If the judge in your case made a decision to award custody to the other parent or some other family member or guardian, you must examine your life and figure out why.

Whether the reason was substance abuse, one or more violent acts, sexual abuse, or neglect, you should make a plan to rectify the situation immediately.

If you have been wrongly accused of any of the above or other reasons, it is still important to cooperate with any court-ordered investigations, despite how frustrating or infuriating this process may be for you.

You are encouraged to gather friends, co-workers, neighbors, and any family members to give positive statements to the investigator on your behalf. With those closest to you speaking frankly and honestly about your parenting abilities, and if no abuse or other negative factors are discovered, the court may grant you sole custody once more.

Contact a Qualified Custody Attorney

It is not wise to go through this process all on your own. Instead, call on the help of a skilled and qualified family law attorney. To win back sole custody of your children, an attorney will help you file all the necessary documents, discuss your child custody options, and keep you informed of the process as you work to regain the sole custody you have lost.

Take Any Contingency Actions

In your case, reinstatement of sole custody may be based on your ability to follow through on one or more special actions. These actions may include drug or alcohol treatment, counseling, or parenting classes.

Your family attorney can help you determine if the court has placed any stipulations on your ability to regain sole custody of your children. If the court has placed these stipulations on your case, follow through and complete all of the Judge’s demands.

The wrong path to take is to argue over the validity of these actions. Complying with the court will reflect favorably on you during the child custody re-evaluation process.

Request a Child Custody Re-Evaluation

When you’ve begun working with a lawyer and you’ve started to undergo any actions requested by the court, you’ll want to request an in-home child custody evaluation.

This process will give the courts an updated assessment of your home environment, which could help you regain sole custody.

Heed the Court’s Requests

If, during the evaluation process, the court requests anything of you, don’t delay. Just do it. This means that you should show up for every court hearing fully-prepared.

For best results, try not to reschedule appointments with the children’s guardian ad litem, which is the nomenclature for a court-ordered mediator.

Be Patient

The re-evaluation of your sole custody rights may not happen overnight. The best thing for you to do is remain patient during this process. In the meantime, make sure you exercise your rights to visitation and parenting time to show the courts that the re-granting of custody to you is in the children’s best interests.

Whatever you do, try not to aggravate the situation in any way. This means being polite to all court-ordered personnel like mediators and investigators. Most importantly, ensure you are as friendly as possible when picking up your kids for any visits.

Consider Alternatives to Sole Child Custody

Losing sole custody usually means that you want those rights reinstated so badly that they’re all you think about. This can cause you to fail to consider any other custody arrangements.

However, even shared custody will allow you equal time with the children, and that may be in their best interests.

For that reason, speak with your lawyer, work with your ex, and re-evaluate your own desires. If you’ve lost complete custody, joint custody is better than no time with the children at all.

Maintain a Clean and Safe Environment

Try to avoid doing anything that might showcase a questionable character. That means keeping your home as clean as possible. Of course, a little clutter is expected, especially when there are little ones around, but your home should be kept sanitary and comfortable to live in.

You will also want to ensure that your home is childproof. This means locking-up any firearms, putting laundry detergent pods (which can look like candy to kids) on a high shelf where children cannot reach, and keeping prescription drugs and alcohol out of sight.

Whatever you do, never keep illegal drugs in your home, particularly when the children are present.

Additional tips include avoiding anything that might be seen as sexual behavior. Even if your intentions are entirely innocent, you’ll want to avoid bathing with the children, walking around them naked, and even letting them sleep in your bed.

Drive Safely

During this process, do your best to maintain a clean driving record. You should maintain speed limits at all times and avoid road rage or other driving-related incidents, especially when the kids are present.

When the children are in the car with you, make sure they wear their safety belts and use car seats when necessary.

Vet Your Contact List

Don’t let anyone around your kids who may be seen as dangerous by the courts. This may include those with felony or sex offenses, those who use drugs, and drug dealers.

Even close family members who may have done time for drugs, violence or sexual-related offenses in the past should be avoided while your sole-custody re-evaluation is ongoing. This is the case even if their crimes occurred decades ago.

If you have a new partner, it’s best to avoid allowing that person to stay in your home right after you’ve separated from your spouse, as doing so could upset your kids.

On the other hand, if you’ve been separated for some time, such as six months or more, it’s far more reasonable to introduce your kids to your new long-term partner.

You will also want to avoid inappropriate gatherings and vet all babysitters extremely carefully. Even if a friend from college wants to sleep on your couch for a night, you’ll want to seriously consider the ramifications if that person is found to have a criminal past or uses drugs and/or alcohol frequently.

At the same time, avoid going to bars, rock concerts, and R-rated movies while you have your children. Instead, be sure to explore any adult interests when the children aren’t around.

Keep in mind that your children are always absorbing the things going on around them and those that are said. If they repeat any questionable conversions or report on behavior or guests that fill them with unease, this could reflect negatively on you during your evaluation.

Lost Sole Custody of Your Children? We Can Help!

When you find yourself being stripped of your sole custody rights, don’t hesitate. Call a qualified family lawyer at Griffith, Young, and Lass in Carlsbad, California. Our attorneys have experience with all aspects of child custody and other family law matters.

We can help you fight for your rights to have sole custody reinstated or pursue another arrangement, like joint custody, or whatever is in the best interests of the children.

Schedule a legal consultation online or call us at (858) 371-5569 today! We can discuss your case with you and help you pursue your options as you seek to get sole custody reinstated.


Meet Our Team 

Honest. Fearless. Bold.
  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS
  • Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS
  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS
  • Shirin Asgari, Esq., CFLS
  • Noelle J. Slattery, Esq.
  • Eric Cowdery, Esq.
  • Joshua Yee, Esq.
  • Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq.
  • Lea Trojanowski, Esq.
  • Greyson Sharp, Esq.
  • Brittany Van Ryder, Esq.
  • Karissa Piralla, Esq.
  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS


    John Griffith has practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2009. John is a Certified Family Law Specialist certified as an expert in the area of family law by the California Board of Legal Specialization. Prior to opening Griffith, Young & Lass, he worked as the managing partner of one of the largest family law firms in North County San Diego.
    John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS


    Catie E. Young excels in child custody cases and move-away trials. She has a unique approach to child custody cases and clients of Griffith, Young & Lass tend to gravitate toward her in these cases. Since joining the firm, she has continuously brought her zeal and compassion to representing clients in child custody and domestic violence cases, and in December 2011, she became a partner at Griffith, Young & Lass.
    Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS


    Amy Lass, a certified family law specialist, was born in New York and raised in San Diego, California. Amy graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Enterprise Accounting. Amy went on to earn her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and graduated cum laude in 2006.
    Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Shirin Asgari, Esq., CFLS Shirin Asgari, Esq., CFLS


    Attorney Shirin Asgari has a broad spectrum of legal experience and has handled matters in family law, criminal law, business law, and national security law. Currently, she focuses on family law matters and is a strong advocate for the rights of her clients. She dedicates time and attention to the needs of each client and the unique circumstances their case presents.
    Shirin  Asgari, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Noelle J. Slattery, Esq. Noelle J. Slattery, Esq.


    Noelle J. Slattery, Esq. has a bachelor’s degree in Performing Arts/Acting from Emerson College in Boston and a Juris Doctor ...
    Noelle J. Slattery, Esq. Photo
  • Eric Cowdery, Esq. Eric Cowdery, Esq.


    Eric Cowdery earned his bachelor’s and Master’s degrees before earning his JD from Golden Gate University as part of the Honors Lawyering Program. He was admitted to the California Bar Association in 2013 and has been working diligently in the field ever since. Taking a personalized approach to each case, Eric Cowdery is committed to working with clients to help them through the often confusing and complex legal process of divorce.

    Eric  Cowdery, Esq. Photo
  • Joshua Yee, Esq. Joshua Yee, Esq.


    Attorney Joshua Yeereceived his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, from the University of California, San Diego. Joshua went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree from University of San Francisco. His experience working with a local Certified Family Law Specialist solidified his desire to become a family law attorney. Since becoming an attorney, Josh has exclusively practiced in family law.
    Joshua  Yee, Esq. Photo
  • Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq. Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq.


    Shaudi Malekzadeh is a Carlsbad family law attorney at Griffith, Young & Lass, advocating for the rights and interests of Southern California families in a variety of family law cases, such as child custody, alimony, spousal support, and the division of community property. She is committed to delivering effective legal representation to our clients, aggressively advocating for their legal rights, and offering compassionate legal advice.
    Shaudi  Malekzadeh, Esq. Photo
  • Lea Trojanowski, Esq. Lea Trojanowski, Esq.


    Lea Trojanowski is an attorney with Griffith, Young, and Lass, joining the firm in March 2021. Her pragmatic and level-headed approach to family law has allowed her to be successful in even the most emotional family law cases. Lea has effectively represented clients in a wide range of family law proceedings, but is particularly drawn to domestic violence restraining order cases.
    Lea  Trojanowski, Esq. Photo
  • Greyson Sharp, Esq. Greyson Sharp, Esq.


    Greyson Sharp received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from California State University, Fresno. After ...
    Greyson  Sharp, Esq. Photo
  • Brittany Van Ryder, Esq. Brittany Van Ryder, Esq.


    Brittany Van Ryder joined Griffith, Young, and Lass as a Bar Clerk in September 2022. She became an Associate Attorney at the ...
  • Karissa Piralla, Esq. Karissa Piralla, Esq.


    A San Diego native, Karissa earned a Bachelor's Degree in Communication from UCSD and a Juris Doctorate from the University ...

Our Results Speak for Themselves

Over 100 5-Star Reviews Throughout Our Social Media Platforms
  • The way John presented our case was pure genius with meticulous preparation and deliberate action in court.

    “We were referred to John Griffith at GYL by our former attorney. I specifically was looking for an aggressive attorney that would yield results. John, Josh, and the firm performed flawlessly, and did ...”

    - MoMo M.
  • I would highly recommend Griffith, Young & Lass to anyone looking for ethical, honest, hard-working and skillful lawyers.

    “I would highly recommend Griffith, Young & Lass to anyone looking for ethical, honest, hard-working and skillful lawyers (I would stress these are actually rare qualities within the legal industry and ...”

    - Scott G.
  • You cannot find a better law firm.

    “I cannot say enough good things about John Griffith and this law firm. Each person i interacted with was responsive, intelligent, thoughtful and professional. Attorney Griffith worked very hard to ...”

    - Michelle P.
  • It was the best decision I’ve made yet and hopefully, it will be yours too.

    “She doesn’t back down from anyone. It was the best decision I’ve made yet and hopefully, it will be yours too.”

    - Ian R.
  • Understanding, accessible, and I was very happy with the outcome of my case. If I could give a higher rating I would!

    “Easy to work with, forthcoming about the process, set realistic expectations, and always kept cost in mind.”

    - Jennifer P.
  • All three lawyers worked together on the issues surrounding my case, which helped greatly when I was in need of answers or support.

    “The GYL team is always prompt at returning calls & emails. From personal experience, I can tell you that they will not step away from your case until it's finished.”

    - Kelsey L.
  • I couldn’t have made it without them! I highly recommend them!

    “GYL has been an extraordinary support and backing in my divorce. Being a male in the military, the process for divorce and custody is difficult. GYL was extremely helpful, and I was able to full custody of my children. That alone is such a monumental feat.”

    - Frankie S.
  • Worth every penny! My custody case went as stress-free as it could possibly be.

    “I hate seeing anyone go through custody battles but if you’re in that situation and need someone who is trustworthy and great at what they do, then I swear this is the place to get the help!”

    - Emily B.
  • I highly recommend GYL if you are ever in need of a family law attorney.

    “No matter who I corresponded with they were always knowledgeable of my case and quick to respond.”

    - Kimberley F.
  • Highly professional and supportive in a very uncertain time in my life.

    “My clearance was granted without any additional issues. I'd recommend this legal team to any Soldier needing help with their clearance.”

    - K. Brooks
  • Always willing to listen to your concerns. I would highly recommend.

    “Compassionate and kind, however, he will fight for you and your best interests. He is calm and calculated and extremely smart.”

    - Ann M.
  • Extremely helpful, responsive, and reasonable and got the job done amidst tenuous circumstances.

    “She and her team were extremely compassionate, sensitive with me while concurrently advocating strongly on my behalf.”

    - Jeremy R.
  • I felt like she was practical and knowledgeable and most importantly, she listened.

    “The professional and succinct assistance was a much-needed breath of fresh air in the maze of hurdles and complications with our family law case.”

    - David R.

Why GYL? 

Turn to a Team that Does It Best
  • We're Leaders in Our Field

    From case planning to preparation, to superior courtroom presence, our clients can be sure that they will walk into the Courtroom prepared and with the best chance of success.

  • Client Centered & Results Oriented

    Our representation is tailored to the unique circumstances of each client. We deploy the GYL strategic case trajectory dynamic to ensure the best chance at success at the most reasonable cost. 

  • Brilliant, Hard-Working & Honest

    We don't believe in wasting our client's time and money. Helping people is what drives us to excel at our craft. We first identify the goals and interests of each client, we then develop an efficient and effective case plan aimed at achieving those goals.

  • Responsible & Ethical Practices

    We believe in a responsible and ethical practice and stick to our values regardless of the situation. We're transparent and don't just tell our clients what they want to hear, unless it's what we believe, even if it may deter them from moving forward. We stand by our team's expertise and will always be upfront and honest with our clients. 

Get Started Today

Fill Out the Form Below or Call 858-371-5569 to Speak with an Experienced Attorney
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.