Some assume that child custody matters are simple issues that can be quickly resolved given that, according to California law, custody is ultimately determined upon what is in the “best interest of the child.” However, complexities in child custody matters often emerge when parents’ fail to reach an agreement on their own about what is in their offspring’s best interest. Our Santa Rosa child custody attorneys understand that a wide range of factors can play into the “best interests of the child” standard. We have helped guide many local residents through this process.
In California, either parent can have custody of the child or the parents can agree to share custody. The child custody agreement consists of both legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody grants the parent the right to make important decisions for the child in regards to such issues as education and health care. Physical custody refers to with who the child lives. Both parents may share the rights and responsibilities to both legal and physical custody or one parent may have the sole right to either legal or physical custody.
Custody is not given automatically to the mother or the father. A common misconception is that the mother has the more favorable platform in gaining custody rights of the child. However, the court takes into account several factors in determining what is best for the child, including the age of the child, the health of the child, the emotional ties between the parents and the child, and similar issues. Also taken into consideration by the court is the behavior of the parents during both the divorce proceeding and the child custody matter. Therefore, the father has an equal opportunity to gain legal rights and responsibilities of the child during a custody proceeding.
Although California courts give mothers and fathers an equal chance to gain legal rights in child custody matters, our Santa Rosa custody lawyers advise fathers seeking custody to take certain precautions so as not to thwart their equal opportunity. Due to the societal preconception that children are better off with their mothers, judges may have an instinctual disposition to unknowingly favor the mother. It is important for fathers in child custody battles to refrain from certain behaviors that might reinforce those preconceived notions.
A recent article touched on these issues. The story suggested that in order to protect their custody rights, fathers should not exude behavior that would suggest dominance or an attitude that men are more powerful than women. Such behavior that might suggest dominance and power include yelling at a wife, criticizing their partner to friends and family, or failing to inform the mother in advance of any decisions made in regards to the child. A display of dominance and power may allow the mother to assert the claim that she is afraid of her husband, which may ultimately put the father in a negative light in the court’s judgment. Overall, it is important to understand – especially for fathers – that determining the best interest of the child also entails how the mother and father treat each other.
Our Santa Rosa family law attorneys appreciate that child custody matters are emotional, complex, and often wrought with uncertainty. No matter what your situation, each Northern California family law attorney at our firm has the experience to help protect your rights. Please give us a call at 707-576-7175 to learn how we can help you in the child custody process.
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Our firm is headquartered in Santa Rosa, California, but we offer family law services to clients in many nearby areas including Cotati, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Petaluma, Windsor, Glen Ellen, Bodega Bay, Ukiah, Willits, Kenwood , Clearlake, Lakeport, Kelseyville and throughout Sonoma County, Mendocino County and Lake County.