By Emmett Berg
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, embroiled in a child custody dispute since he was charged with spousal abuse in January, has won a loosening of court-ordered restrictions on contact with his 2-year-old son.
A San Francisco family court judge approved a legal agreement on Wednesday between Mirkarimi and his estranged wife, Venezuelan soap opera actress Eliana Lopez, allowing him two hours of visitation with their son each weekday and up to six hours during weekends.
Mirkarimi pleaded not guilty in January to misdemeanor counts of domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness in an incident stemming from an argument with Lopez on New Year's Eve.
"This has been a tortuous process but it's good the system is in place," Mirkarimi told reporters outside the court.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald Albers left in place a protective order that prevents Mirkarimi from having contact with his wife.
The judge said the visitation order would stand at least until the sheriff's trial later in February. The couple has lived apart since Mirkarimi was charged in the case in mid-January.
"I just have to say I'm extremely happy," Lopez, who was in agreement with the loosened restrictions, said following the hearing. "It's going to be a surprise for (the boy)."
(Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)