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In Re the Marriage of Lisa and Joseph Alfar. v. Joseph Alfar

September 19, 2011

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF LISA AND JOSEPH ALFAR. LISA ALFAR, APPELLANT,
v.
JOSEPH ALFAR, RESPONDENT.



(Super. Ct. No. PFL20070375)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Butz , J.

In re Marriage of Alfar CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Mother, Lisa Alfar, appeals from a court order awarding father, Joseph Alfar, joint legal custody of the parties' minor children. We find the trial court acted within its discretion and shall affirm the order.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

In March 2005, mother lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was awarded sole legal and physical custody of the parties' two boys, then aged 10 and almost 12. Father, who still lived in California, was awarded therapeutic visitation with the boys until the therapist determined that father was ready to see them by himself after a minimum of 10 therapeutic visits. The goal for the therapeutic visits was to have the boys visit father during the majority of their 2004-2005 school holidays. The court further ruled that at the end of the summer of 2005, it would consider awarding mother and father joint legal custody.

Father moved to set aside that order. Father's motion was denied; he appealed the trial court's ruling. The court's ruling was affirmed on appeal in January 2007. (In re Marriage of Alfar (Jan. 31, 2007, A112558) [nonpub. opn.].)

In July 2007, father moved to modify the custody order. Following father's motion, his supervised therapeutic visitation with the boys was ordered continued and minors' counsel was appointed in October 2007. Trial on father's motion to modify custody was set for July 30, 2008. After the trial date was set, the court ordered the family to participate in a Family Code section 3111*fn1 custody evaluation with the court-appointed expert, Eugene Roeder, Ph.D. Thereafter, the trial date was vacated and new minors' counsel was appointed.

In October 2008, after completing his custody evaluation, Roeder recommended the boys remain in the sole custody of mother, and that they "immediately" begin having unsupervised parenting time with father. Roeder further recommended that after three or five daytime visits with father, father and the boys meet again with Tim Rood, their therapeutic visit supervisor, "to arrange a more extensive parenting time for the boys with their father."

Roeder recommended that Rood communicate directly with minors' counsel regarding the parenting schedule. Minors' counsel would then be responsible for monitoring the boys' progress, and require the parents to meet with her if necessary.

The trial on father's motion to change custody was heard over two days in December 2008 and January 2009. At the conclusion of trial, the court ordered father and the boys to have therapeutic visitation, beginning immediately, two times per month for "the next 90 days." If the visitation supervisor, Rood, was unavailable, minors' counsel was to contact another therapist.

In April 2009, at a 90-day review hearing on father's parenting, marriage and family therapist Bijili Abbey, made her own recommendations to the trial court regarding custody. Those recommendations are not part of the record on appeal, though they were adopted in full by the trial court as "a temporary order." Included in Abbey's recommendations was a recommendation that the boys participate in counseling and that periodic case status reviews be had with the court. Accordingly, the court appointed Larry Nicholas, Ph.D., as the boys' counselor, and asked that he provide the court with periodic status reviews.

On December 8, 2009, Nicholas filed a letter with the trial court wherein he described his meetings with the family and reported on the family's status. Nicholas observed that the first interaction between father and the boys was "quite positive." He reported the boys were friendly, there was no hostility displayed by father or the boys, and the ...


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