Back in the 1950s, fathers worked and mothers were the primary caregivers of their children.
Fast-forward to the modern world, both mothers and fathers are working fulltime, and in most cases, they share in the day-to-day roles as primary caregivers to their children.
In those days, a judge would typically grant physical custody of the children automatically to the mother who stayed at home and the working father would have visitation rights. These days, however, judges are barred from using sex as a bias when granting custody, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still happen. That’s why it’s important to know your rights and be prepared. Indeed, just because your marriage has come to an end, it doesn’t mean your affection for your children has changed. It does mean that parents will separate and this can put a strain on a father’s relationship with his children if he does not get equal time with the kids.
There may also be a significant financial impact if you are not the primary caregiver.
Unfortunately, California courts still tend to grant primary custody to mothers more often than they do to fathers in contested cases, but the reason may not be what you think it is. Most cases where the father does not prevail is because it was not in child’s best interest. Often this is not a court bias, but rather the father failed to present his case or didn’t present facts necessary to prevail in court.
Under Family Code 3040, custody should be granted in the following order of preference according to the best interest of the child as provided in Sections 3011 and 3020:
(1) To both parents jointly pursuant to Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 3080) or to either parent. In making an order granting custody to either parent, the court shall consider, among other factors, which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent, consistent with Sections 3011 and 3020, and shall not prefer a parent as custodian because of that parent’s sex. The court, in its discretion, may require the parents to submit to the court a plan for the implementation of the custody order …
As you can see, California law grants equal rights to custody between both parents. In fact, it forbids bias against either parent based on their sex. Now that you know this, it’s important to go to court with a winning outlook and avoid using bias as an excuse.
If you need help with a Family Law issue such as a divorce or child custody matter, please contact our Family Law Offices to request a free consultation.