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Child Custody Question. Do Mothers Have an Advantage In Custody Disputes?

girl with mother in the parkOne critical child custody question for someone facing divorce. What will happen to the children?. Where custody is in dispute, divorcing spouses must rely on a court to make a decision regarding child custody. Many parents approach custody hearings wondering whether the court will give preference to a child’s mother over the father.

Child Custody in California

Under California law, child custody actually includes two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to the actual place where the child will live–the child’s legal residence. A parent who has physical custody has the primary responsibility to house, feed, and care for the child. Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions for the child, such as decisions regarding the child’s education, schooling, health, religion, or the like.

A court can award physical and legal custody to both parents (joint custody) or to one of the parents (sole custody). A court may also grant physical custody to one parent while granting legal custody to another. It is not unusual for a court to grant physical custody to one of the parents while determining that both parents will maintain legal custody (e.g., make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing). Additionally, the court will often grant the non-custodial parent certain visitation rights.

What Happens In A Dispute About a Child?

Child custody decisions are complex and may result in many different types of outcomes. Where parents are able to co-parent a child and agree to share in parental responsibilities, a court may award legal and physical custody to both parents (e.g., joint custody). Likewise, when there is only one parent in the picture, the court may award legal and physical custody to the parent who is still around (e.g., sole custody). Courts may struggle though when both parents want custody of a child but will not agree to joint custody. In these situations, California courts must act in the best interests of the child.

Do Mothers Have an Advantage in Custody Disputes?

Legally, a court must act in the best interests of the child when determining custody. To do this, the court will consider a number of factors, including:

  • The emotional bonds between the child and the parents;
  • The ability of a parent to provide for the child, including income, job history, etc.;
  • The criminal history of a parent;
  • Whether there exists a history of physical or sexual abuse;
  • The presence and nature of substance abuse problems;
  • Any relevant characteristics of a parent, including race, age, gender, sexual preference, etc.;
  • Any physical or emotional handicaps;
  • The geographic locations of parties involved; and
  • The needs of related parties, such as siblings or other family members.

It may surprise some that courts do not favor mothers over fathers in custody disputes. The only issue is what will be best for the child. Under this standard, neither father nor mother has any advantage. However, the court will make its decision based on the unique circumstances of each family.

Many parents feel that children should get to choose which parent should be given custody. In many circumstances, a court will consider a child’s preferences, but these preferences are not a controlling factor.

Getting Legal Help with Child Custody in Santa Rosa California

Child Custody disputes are difficult and may have a lasting impact on you and your family. If you involved in a custody dispute, Beck Law P.C. can help you. The family law attorneys at Beck Law P.C. can answer your questions and help you prepare for your custody proceeding. For a consultation regarding child custody, divorce, or any other family law question, contact Beck Law P.C. at 707-five seven six-7175 or visit us online.

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