When parents divorce or legally separate in California, both parents will have to agree on child custody, child support, and visitation schedule. Gone are the days when mothers are designated as the custodial parent. In California, fathers like you have been getting a lot of misinformation in as far as your custody rights are concerned. This is mostly due to the wrong impression that family courts are biased against you and you don’t stand a chance to share custody of your child is wrong This negative thinking may derail you from the task at hand, and that is to look for facts and the evidence you need to come up with in order to establish your position for joint custody or sole custody of your kids. Fathers’ rights are not about protection against some perceived bias against dads. It is, more importantly, about your responsibility to take your parental rights seriously and enforce them. The state of California has laws in place for unlawful discrimination against anyone as a result of gender and give any preference for gender in a divorce and custody case.
Asserting Fathers Rights
Uphold visitation rights
You need to ask yourself, “How much time am I willing to dedicate to looking after my kids?”. Family laws in California are big on frequent interactions made possible during visitation time between parents and their child. Child-parent bonds become stronger during these visitations. That being said, aside from your work schedule, the age of your child also comes into play when it comes to the visitation schedule. Understandably, it gets more complicated the younger the child involved is. In such cases, you and your child custody lawyer must thoroughly assess the situation and propose a win-win arrangement, one that will grant you quality time with your child while putting his or her best interest at heart. For practical reasons, considering both your and your child’s schedules, weekend visits, summer breaks, and after school bonding time are workable options for child visitation. Whatever you decide, you must be ready to justify in court the availability you have chosen. For this reason, it is advisable to work with an experienced child custody lawyer.
Make a stand on equal parental decisions.
Your rights as a father also include your involvement in the decision-making process for the welfare of the child. This means you have a voice on how your child is raised. You are involved in all the major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, religion, health-care treatments, school, safety, and welfare. In most cases, the court grants equal legal custody unless the parent is deemed as unfit for the following reasons:
- serious parental conflict,
- domestic violence,
- child abuse,
- substance abuse or
- inability to co-parent.
In spite of common misconceptions, some mothers may be unfit to be a parent. If that is the case, it is highly advisable for the father to seek sole legal custody, in the best interest of the child. Remember, California custody laws are already neutral and unbiased. No special privileges or advantages are given to mothers.
Fight false allegations of child abuse or domestic violence.
Some mothers are so desperate to get full custody such that they go to great lengths to trample on your rights The mother of your child can accuse you of domestic violence or child abuse, either of which have a detrimental effect to your custody case. California family courts are very particular in protecting children. As such, you must be very vigilant. If you are falsely accused of domestic violence or child abuse, be ready to conduct depositions to fight false claims. The mother’s deposition (testimony under oath outside of court) being taken as well as discovery (formal and written demand for information) can force the mother to state all of the facts and purported evidence (which are often revealed to be uncorroborated statements in false abuse cases) that she claims supports her position. Once false allegations are exposed, the mother and her attorney will realize that they have a lost cause.
Seek modification of custody when necessary
If the mother of your child has been alienating or brainwashing your child by making false allegations against you, you may want to consider seeking a modification. It may be in the best interest of the child if you have sole legal custody because such action of the other parent, in this case, the mother, consistently disparaging the father is a form of emotional abuse that can affect the child. As a father, you are responsible for bringing this matter to the family court’s attention to protect your child.
Beware of the manipulations on child support
A mother may think of getting money out of the custody battle. If a child spends less time with the father, the father is obligated to pay more child support. This may affect your father’s rights during a custody case. On the other hand, some mothers will fight tooth and nail to make sure they are not ordered to pay child support. You should be equipped to challenge the mother if you perceive that the mother is trying to influence your rights just so she could get more money from child support.
Consult a Family Law Firm
Think of your rights and responsibilities to your child. As a father, you have a right to form meaningful relationships with your child. You also have a responsibility to make sure that he or she is protected and taken care of. Call us at the Law Offices of Marc Grossman and let our experienced Upland child custody lawyers help you preserve your rights as a father.