Understanding Child Custody Rights for Fathers
By Henry F. Lewis on May 04, 2021
When spouses choose to divorce, figuring out who gets what can be messy. There is probably nothing more contentious in a divorce than settling matters of child custody. Both parents are usually eager to maintain custody of their child.
When working with male clients, family law attorneys Michael A. Gardner and Henry F. Lewis often find that fathers worry the court will favor the mother in child custody proceedings. The idea that children belong solely with their mom is outdated, and, fortunately, the court realizes that. We are happy to help our Oakland, CA, clients understand child custody rights for fathers, so that they can continue to nurture the father/child relationship.
California Child Custody Laws
In the state of California, both of a child’s parents have the same legal right to have a relationship with their child/children. When matters of child custody are brought to court, California law examines the issue by considering what is in the best interest of the child. Because state laws prohibit the court and government agencies from interfering in a parent/child relationship unless it is necessary to protect the safety or well-being of the child, it is standard for the court to assign joint custody in divorce proceedings.
Joint custody does not always mean that each parent shares equal time with their child, but whenever possible, the goal is to allow both the mother and father roughly 50 percent custody. If circumstances result in one parent being identified as the custodial parent, meaning that the child lives with that parent the majority of the time, the other parent should still maintain visitation rights that grant them a certain amount of time with the child.
Physical vs. Legal Custody
Fathers should know that they have the right to pursue both physical and legal custody of their child. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and spends their time. Legal custody refers to who makes important decisions regarding how the child is raised and cared for. Even if a father is not granted majority physical custody, they can still request joint legal custody. By pursuing their right to legal custody, fathers can maintain a say in matters such as:
- Where the child goes to school
- Medical and dental treatment received by the child
- The type of religious upbringing the child receives
Can a Father Seek Child Support?
We want our Oakland clients to understand that mothers and fathers have the same rights regarding child support. Child support payments are often ordered in cases where one parent is named the primary custodian. While the other parent is likely to have visitation rights (even if those visitations are supervised), the child lives with the custodial parent the majority of the time. The custodial parent has the right to request child support payments to assist with the cost of the child’s food, housing, clothing, etc. If the custodial parent is the child’s father, they have the same right to pursue child support payments that the mother would have if the situation were reversed.
Schedule a Consultation
Family law attorneys at Gardner & Lewis, LLP value a father’s rights to child custody. If you are divorcing, our legal team can help you get the time you deserve with your child. To learn more about your rights, send us a message online, or call (510) 451-4822 to schedule a consultation at our Oakland law firm.
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“The needs of your family are always at the forefront of our legal services. Whether through litigation or mediation, we believe that reaching a fair, efficient solution with minimal negative impact to your family is of the utmost importance.” Henry F. Lewis