You have rights when it comes to your child as a father in California. In the past, courts tended to favor the mother in custody actions, based on outdated notions that mothers were supposed to be the caregivers while fathers worked outside of the home.
While these perceptions have significantly decreased in recent years, fathers often still have a harder time advocating for their custody rights. In addition to fighting past stereotypes, fathers must sometimes contend with a mother who is actively trying to keep their child away from them.
The harmful effects of growing up without a father
Growing up with both parents in their lives has a dramatic impact on a child’s life. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that approximately 24 million children live in homes without a father. This includes biological, adoptive or stepfathers.
Statistics show that children from fatherless households are 2 times more likely to be high school dropouts, 4 times more likely to live in poverty and 7 times more likely to become teen parents. They are also more prone to alcohol or drug abuse and criminal activity.
Custody is based on your child’s best interests
Custody under California law is determined by what is in the child’s best interest. There are several factors that a court examines when making this determination.
Some of these factors include the emotional ties between a parent and child and each parent’s ability to care for the child. None of these factors involve the sex of the parent.
The presumption that shared custody is best
A custody court automatically presumes that shared custody between you and the child’s mother is in your child’s best interest. This means that you and the mother should start out on even ground when it comes to custody.
It is always better if custody is agreed upon between both parents, but that is not always the case. As a father, if you find yourself facing custody litigation, it is best to work with an experienced custody attorney who can protect your rights as a father.