If California fathers obtained a divorce in the 20th century and sought to share child custody after their divorce, it is highly likely that they were disappointed. During that time, the family courts tended to side with mothers and would award them full child custody. However, during the last 30 years, there has been a significant change in how family courts are handling child custody: They have been increasingly pushing for mutual agreements that favor shared custody.
One of the two types of child custody is legal custody, which gives parents complete autonomy regarding the decisions made about their children’s religion, healthcare, education and any other part of their general well-being. The other type of child custody is residential or physical custody, which is primarily refers to where the children reside at night.
Divorce laws are not the same in every state. However, a family court’s first consideration when deciding child custody arrangements is typically joint legal custody, and courts are encouraging shared residential custody arrangements. It is important to note that because residential custody is sometimes impossible to split equally due to logistical issues, the courts do still favor the mother when dividing residential custody.
Since the 1980s, there has been a difference in the access fathers have to their children after a divorce or if they never married the mother. A 2014 study that was conducted by university researchers revealed that mothers in one state were given sole custody in 80 percent of the child custody cases in 1980 and that the rate had fallen to 42 percent by 2008.
A family law attorney may advise parents about which legal strategies might help them obtain the child custody terms they desire. Litigation may be used to resolve disputes regarding visitation, parental relocation, legal custody and more.