When child custody rights become an issue in California courtrooms, tempers can run high. Both parents may feel they want a majority or at least equal time with the children, but the situation may dictate otherwise. It would be one thing if child custody issues were all you had to contend with, but divorces also typically involve property division, spousal support, and other significant matters that can be confusing. Add custody of the children to the mix and parents may not know where to turn for help.
The following should help.
Here are some points to consider when it comes to child custody in the state of California.
If you want answers now, you can always get the advice of a qualified divorce mediation specialist by calling Fresh Start Mediation, where experienced divorce lawyers are standing by to answer your child custody questions.
Mothers Rights vs. Fathers Rights
Courtrooms everywhere always want what is best for the children. Ideally, children would spend equal time with both parents, which would imply joint custody or 50-50 custody. However, most divorces end up with one parent being the custodial or primary parent while the other remains the non-custodial parent that gets visitation rights. This is usually to keep the child in a stable home for schooling and other purposes. The non-custodial parent will then pay child support and will receive visitation time according to the terms listed in the Divorce decree.
The Court would prefer that the parents devise the custody and visitation schedules all on their own. However, this isn’t always possible, especially if the parents don’t get along, are arguing for more time with the children, and if there are complicating matters like alcoholism or abuse. In these cases, the Judge will make the determining factor after considering all the variables and, again, so that the ruling is always in the best interests of the kids.
Child Custody Rights for Fathers
Fathers’ custody rights refer to the biological father’s ability to get legal or physical custody of the children. A father has a right to seek both legal and physical custody for the kids, or child visitation, regardless if the father was married to the mother at the time the child was born. The Court sees fathers as having just as much rights to the child as the biological mother.
This wasn’t always the case, as historically, the law was stacked against fathers who wanted physical and legal custody for their children. These days, however, both the law and the Courts have become unbiased toward fathers, which means that dads have just as much right to spend time with the kids as the biological mother, despite prevailing myths to the contrary.
If you are a father and you’re worried about your chances of gaining legal and physical custody, the Court may order an evaluation to determine if you are fit to obtain legal and/or physical custody. Legal custody refers to the ability to make important legal decisions while physical custody refers to the actual time spent with the children.
How to Win Child Custody Rights for Fathers
You can stack the deck in your favor as far as fathers’ custody rights go by forming a bond with your children as early as you can. Make sure you attend important school and social gatherings and be sure to prepare a safe space for the children while they are in your home. Before going to Court, it would be wise to have a pre-formulated plan that you can present to the Judge regarding the child custody stipulations you prefer.
Child Custody Rights for Mothers
Before the Court can determine the mother’s rights, the Judge will first determine if the child was born in or out of wedlock. If the parents are unmarried, this can complicate matters. Mothers typically automatically get custody of the child when the parents are unmarried, but the father can petition the Court for child custody rights. As the primary caretaker of the child, the mother will, in most cases, have complete authority to make all decisions regarding the child’s welfare.
If the parents were married when the children were born, in the past, mothers were typically favored with regards to child custody rights. Modern times have seen gender roles change, and thus, more women work outside of the home. Thus, the laws have become gender-neutral. Instead, the Court will make a decision based on what is best for the kids.
That means that, just like fathers’ rights, as a mother, you may be evaluated by the Court to determine if you are fit enough to be awarded legal and physical custody of the children.
How to Win Child Custody Rights for Mothers
As with fathers, mothers should do their best to bond with their children. Create a safe space for the kids inside the home, such as giving them their own room that is nicely decorated in a way that makes them comfortable, and by attending social events and school functions.
Can a Mother Keep a Child Away from the Father and Vice Versa?
Typically, the answer is no, unless a court order says otherwise. If the parents are unmarried, the mother is usually awarded full custody, which means, as the father, you may have to petition the court to gain access to the children in some capacity. If there are instances of violence or substance abuse, these can complicate matters, but that is for the Court to decide.
If you are concerned about your child custody rights as a mother or father, you are encouraged to seek the advice of a qualified divorce attorney. The good news is that you can settle child custody issues outside of the courtroom with divorce mediation. Speak to a qualified divorce mediation specialist by calling Fresh Start Mediation today, now serving clients in Carlsbad, Vista and San Marcos, California.