What does a "father's rights" in California mean?
Fathers rights in California is an interesting topic because opinions vary depending on whether you talk to an experienced California divorce attorney or an everyday father or mother. Many fathers believe that there is a bias in the Court system on California divorce and child custody cases because women are the preferred parents to care for the children. Is there truth to this? Or is this an outgrowth of decades of misconception?
Primary Parenting Time
The term "visitation" is not an entirely accurate statement when it comes to time with the children Parents don't really "visit" with children as much as they have "parenting time." Parenting time varies from case to case. Some parents can handle more, others can barely take on an every other weekend schedule. But what about fathers rights and situations where fathers want primary parenting time (more than 50%). Is it fact or fiction that they can get it?
In our experience, fathers rights in California to primary parenting time is fact.
Our divorce attorneys can proudly state that we have obtained 50/50 parenting time and even sole child custody orders for fathers when the situation required it - those situations included where the mother abused the child, was unfit to care for the child (typically those of substance abuse), refused to co-parent and alienated the child or did not spend the time allocated to her with the child and refused to allow the father to care for the child during that time. These and other circumstances can result in primary parenting time and even sole child custody orders to a father.
Joint Custody and Parenting Time
This situation is different. It is one where both parents are equally able to care for the child. It generally does not involve abuse, neglect or a serious lack of co-parenting.
The key for fathers is to persuade the family court that they are not just willing to care for the child an equal amount of time but have the time to do so. Once again, our attorneys have successfully obtained for father equal (50/50) parenting time when it was consistent with the children's best interest and both parents were in a good position to share that kind of custody time.
50/50 custody comes in varying forms including a week on-week off schedule, a 2-2-3 or 2-2-5 schedule and others.
Even though we have had success, all of us have also seen situations where the court has been hesitant to grant 50/50 custody if there are doubts as to the father's ability to care for the child equal time. Does that mean there is a bias against fathers? We don't believe so. But with old-fashioned judges who come with pre-conceived notions of how a child should be raised, this can become more difficult than it should. That just means to enforce the fathers rights in California on these kinds of custody cases, the father and his lawyer have to be well prepared to present the issues, facts and law to the family law judge so he or she has little excuse to not order equal parenting time.
False allegations of Child Abuse or Domestic Violence
We have written in the past about cases of false allegations of child abuse in a divorce or false allegations of domestic violence. These cases can be contentious and difficult and generally involve child custody investigations, valuations or the appointment of a lawyer for the children. When fathers are faced with false allegations of child abuse or domestic violence, gathering documents and witnesses in support of the father's position is an important part of the process. If you find yourself facing false allegations, contact us. Our attorneys have successfully represented fathers in such cases and we can help you.