Does A Father Have A Good Chance Of Getting 50/50 Custody In California?

Custody issues cause more anxiety and pain than almost anything a parent can face in life. The thought of losing time with your child and missing the daily milestones in growth that make childhood so special is a frightening thought.

People will freely share what they know about custody conflicts and resolutions, but it’s important to realize that some of that information is based on rumors that are likely untrue. Information circulating could also be based on old laws or on specific circumstances that do not apply in your case.

All decisions regarding custody are made on a case-by-case basis after evaluating all the applicable factors to determine what serves a child’s best interests. Every family is unique, so every custody determination is unique. There is no simple rule to apply to gauge the likelihood of gaining custody in California.

However, to improve your chances of gaining the custody arrangement you want, it helps to understand the factors that go into the determination and ensure that you inform your attorney about all the factors that weigh in your favor as well as negative issues that the other parent might bring up to use against you.

Understanding Custody

Before you can consider plans for gaining custody, it is important to understand which type of custody you’re looking at. Physical custody is what most people think of as custody. It covers the child’s living arrangements and time spent staying overnight with each parent.

Legal custody is addressed separately. When a parent has legal custody, they have the authority to make decisions about factors that affect the child’s upbringing, such as where they will go to school, which doctor they will see, and whether they will be raised with particular religious beliefs.

Either type of custody can be granted solely to one parent or shared between parents. For instance, parents might share legal custody and decision-making authority while one parent has primary physical custody and the child lives with that parent most of the time.

Joint Custody is not Necessarily Shared 50/50

Parents also need to understand that they can share physical custody without having an exact 50/50 split of parenting time. An attorney can help parents develop a schedule that aligns with their work schedules and the child’s school and activity schedules to create the most beneficial arrangements for the whole family.

Many times, a parent will fight to gain 50/50 custody only to face the reality that their schedule requires them to put the child in daycare for much of the time. Depending on work schedules and family dynamics, it might be better for that parent to have physical custody 35 or 40% of the time instead.

California Law Does Not Favor Mothers or Fathers

At one time, California courts, like those of most other states, tended to favor mothers in custody decisions. Mothers were seen as the natural caretakers of the child, so the assumption was that the child’s best interests would be best served by placing the child with the mother for the majority of the time.

Now the law specifically states that neither mothers nor fathers will be favored in custody decisions. However, the presumption in favor of granting custody to a caretaker still applies.

Parental Roles Matter in Custody Decisions

A father who wants to obtain 50/50 custody in California needs to be sure to have evidence of involvement in the child’s life, including an active role as a daily caretaker. If the father is the one to make breakfast in the morning or read bedtime stories at night, it is important for the court to know this.

The reason a court might share custody 50/50 is not to give the parents equal time with their child but to give the child equal time with parents who provide nurturing support. If one parent works long days and doesn’t make the effort to attend a child’s school events or spend time communicating with and doing things with the child, that parent is less likely to be awarded physical custody than a parent who comes to every soccer game and spends the weekends making smiley-faced pancakes and hosting teddy bear tea parties.

If you are a parent seeking custody, take time to write down the activities you engage in regularly with your child. Search through your phone to find photos of the school band concert or art show. Create a file of evidence showing the ways you support your child so you can demonstrate that it is in your child’s best interests for them to spend as much time with you as possible.

For Help Gaining the Right Custody Arrangements, Rely on Holstrom, Block & Parke

It is impossible to assess the chances of father—or a mother—gaining custody without knowing the details of the situation. It is also impossible for the judge to make the best decision if the court is not given full information about each parent’s situation.

When you work with the Certified Family Law Specialists and associates at Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, we ensure that all the factors that weigh in your favor are presented persuasively to demonstrate why your custody goals serve your child’s best interests. For a confidential consultation to discuss custody in your situation, contact our team today.


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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.