If you are a father who is going through a divorce or separation, you may have some questions about your rights and responsibilities regarding child custody, visitation and support.
You may also have some misconceptions or myths about how family law works in California and how it affects you.
Myth: Fathers have fewer rights than mothers in child custody
This is not true. California child custody laws are gender-neutral and do not favor one parent over the other based on their sex.
The court will consider the best interests of the child, which include factors such as the parents’ ability to cooperate, communicate and co-parent effectively, the child’s health, safety and welfare.
The court can also consider the child’s preference, if the child is old enough and mature enough to express a reasonable opinion, the history and nature of each parent’s relationship with the child and any other relevant circumstances.
Myth: Fathers have to prove that they are better parents
This is also not true. California child custody laws do not require fathers to prove that they are superior parents to mothers to get custody.
Rather, the court will evaluate each parent’s relationship with the child and their ability to provide a stable, safe and nurturing environment for the child. The court will not base its decision on stereotypes or biases about gender roles or parenting styles.
Myth: Fathers have to pay more child support
This is not necessarily true. California child support laws are based on a formula that takes into account both parents’ income, the amount of time each parent spends with the child and the child’s needs and expenses.
The court may deviate from the formula if there are special circumstances that warrant a different amount of support. The court may also order either parent to pay for additional expenses, such as health insurance, education or extracurricular activities for the child.
Myth: Fathers have no say in their child’s education
This is not necessarily true. If you have joint legal custody, both parents share the right and responsibility to make major decisions regarding their child’s education, health care and religion. If you cannot agree, a judge may need to decide.
Myth: Fathers cannot get custody if they have a criminal record
This is not true if you can show that you have overcome your issues and that you are fit and capable of caring for your child. The court will look at your current situation and your efforts to rehabilitate yourself. The court will also consider any evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, etc.