As a father of a child in a custody dispute, it can be easy to feel like your interests are not being represented or that anyone cares what you are going through. You might even get the feeling that the California family court system and laws are rigged against you. But while the stress of having the courts intervene in your ability to relate with your children can make it easy to become cynical at times about the custody process, it is important to remember that as a father in California, you have just as much right to pursue custody of your child as the mother. Below, we discuss your rights as a father in California.
California Law Does Not Prefer the Mother
In an earlier era, family law courts often preferred to give custody to the mother, regardless of whether the law was neutral on the subject. That is not the case now, and California state law specifically says that judges “shall not prefer a parent as custodian because of that parent's sex.” Thus, a father has just as much a right to pursue custody as the mother.
Furthermore, state law provides that judges should prefer joint custody over sole custody. In determining whether to award joint custody or sole custody to one of the parents, family court judges must be guided not by the interests and desires of the parents but instead by the best interests of the child. As a father, you will want to make an argument before the court that your preferred custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child, based on certain factors specified by California law (see here for more detail on the best interests of the child factors).
The Mother Usually Cannot Take the Child to Another State Without Approval
Regardless of whether the mother shares joint custody with you or has sole custody of the child, in most (but not all) cases, the mother cannot simply move the child to another state, or out of a specified geographical region, without getting approval of the court. Many times mothers will try to go ahead and make this move anyway, either believing they do not need approval or that they can get away with it, but as a father you often have a right to go to the court with your concerns about the potential move.
You Can Request Child Support
It is a wide misconception that only mothers can petition the family law courts for child support on behalf of their children. As is the case with custody, decisions regarding child support are gender-neutral and fathers can request that child support be paid in the same way mothers can. Courts award child support based on a variety of factors, including the respective income potentials of each parent, the custodial schedule worked out between the parents (how much time each parent has custody of the child during the week), and the financial needs of the child.
Get Experienced Legal Representation in Your Child Custody Matter at a Reasonable Fee
Resolving child custody issues can be deeply stressful, but the family law attorneys at Access Lawyers Group are dedicated to helping their clients reach positive resolutions in all aspects of their child custody matter in the most efficient manner possible, while honoring their rights and interests every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.