If you are not watching Netflix’s Lost in Space, stop reading and go watch the first episode “Impact.” The episode story structure is told in “present” events and flashbacks where the Robinsons decide to leave Earth for the 24th colony to Alpha Centauri.
John Robinson was a Navy SEAL and deployed somewhere in a global conflict. The Earth was hit was by an unknown celestial object on Christmas Day 2044, resulting in nuclear winter conditions on the planet. Maureen applied to take the family of three children as colonists to escape Earth. After acceptance, Maureen sent her husband an “Assignment of Child Custody” for John to sign in order for them to leave for the program in a month.
States across the country have procedures for the assignment of guardianship of children. In the episode “Impact,” the California form used is FL-311 for Maureen’s custody petition, which is under Cal. Fam. Code § 6200, the Domestic Violence Prevention Act.
As there are no allegations of domestic violence, it would have made more sense for Maureen to use form FL-260, which is for an independent action for exclusive custody of children without the dissolution of marriage. The relevant code section is Cal. Fam. Code § 3120, which states:
Without filing a petition for dissolution of marriage or legal separation of the parties, a spouse may bring an action for the exclusive custody of the children of the marriage. The court may, during the pendency of the action, or at the final hearing thereof, or afterwards, make such order regarding the support, care, custody, education, and control of the children of the marriage as may be just and in accordance with the natural rights of the parents and the best interest of the children. The order may be modified or terminated at any time thereafter as the natural rights of the parties and the best interest of the children may require.
Fathers and mothers of minor children have equal responsibilities to support their children. Cal. Fam. Code § 3900. Both Maureen and John clearly have the best interests of their children in mind. Given the fact the Earth was on its way to looking like Venus, Maureen seeking custody of the children in order to leave the planet was arguably in the best interests of the children. However, the fact Maureen and the children would be leaving the planet forever would eliminate John’s reasonable visitation rights. While staying on Earth would be detrimental to the best interests of the Robinson children, there was no evidence seeing their father was in any way harmful. See, Cal. Fam. Code § 3100. As Maureen and John’s estrangement did reach an uneasy détente, we do not know how they decided it was in the best interests of the children for all to join the 24th Colonists short of John refusing to sign away his parental rights.