For much of the 20th century, fathers in California and across the United States were usually not granted sole child custody rights. Judges usually granted full rights to mothers. Today, courts are more likely to award shared parental custody. Courts currently presume that divorced parents have joint legal custody of their children. Legal custody involves a child’s school and educational opportunities, religious upbringing and health care issues. In addition, the court encourages both mothers and fathers to raise their children in dual residences.
Courts have been awarding more frequent sole custody rights to fathers for the past four decades. Since 2008, courts awarded rights to fathers about 58% of the time. Dads previously received sole custody rights only 20% of the time. Judges followed the popular assumption that moms were more capable of caring for younger children. However, some politicians began to promote the concept of fathers raising their children with the approval of the court.
With the advent of no-fault divorce in the 1960s and 1970s, women began to file for divorces in greater numbers. Fathers were left in the background without any legal rights to receive custody of their children. Another issue focuses on unmarried dads who want to receive sole child custody rights. Dads with more money or who were married to the mother are still more likely to seek and get custody of their kids. However, courts are starting to give more attention to fathers who weren’t married.
Dads with concerns regarding child custody issues may want to speak with a family law attorney prior to petitioning the court. An experienced divorce lawyer may have the ability to help a father who wants either joint custody or sole custody of his child. Consulting with an attorney about a child custody agreement may provide a father with a better chance of obtaining child custody.