Many people believe the family courts in California are gender-biased. Interestingly, some believe women are more favored than men, while others believe men get favorable outcomes compared to women. Depending on the side you are on, it is likely you see bias. Before, it was readily assumed mothers were more nurturing, helping them get awarded custody of the children often. Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Many states, California included, believe parents have equal responsibilities and rights toward their child. Still, many continue to think the rights of a father are ignored naturally to favor those of the mother.
When you are going through a divorce, and you feel your rights to your children are neglected, you need to speak to a family lawyer to see your options. We at Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer, understand the pain of a divorce and how your rights to your child are essential to you and the minor.
The Father’s Role
As earlier discussed, the father’s role is often watered down over that of the mother. However, numerous studies have been carried out that indicate children perform better in relationships and schools when they have a relationship with both parents. Additionally, children have been found to have higher IQs, better linguistic capabilities, and cognitive abilities when their fathers are involved in nurturing them.
Fathers are important in their children’s lives, and as such, they help in shaping their future. Despite the pain of a divorce, parents must put their personal feelings aside and remember their children. During a divorce, each parent has rights with the father’s including:
Involvement in Their Lives
If before the divorce, you could spend time with your children and interact with them without interference, this should continue. Children often feel safe with both parents in their lives. Unfortunately, when divorce happens, the parties involved have bitterness and can hold grudges. To vent out her anger, a mother may find ways to deny the father time with their children as a form of revenge.
The innocent party, which is minor, suffers as a result. If you feel your rights to interacting and spending time with your child are getting violated, speaking to a family lawyer is critical to solving the issue. Most lawyers may recommend intervention between the parties to safeguard the minor, but if the mother is adamant in denying you access to your child, legal options are available for you.
Equal Rights to Decision Making
Before a divorce, both parents would discuss and agree on important decisions in their child’s lives. For instance, the school for their child, religion to practice, and even where to live. These decisions are crucial to a child’s life and shaping their future. If you and the mother were involved in making these decisions, it should not change due to divorce. If the mother makes any of these decisions without your involvement, you can challenge it in court.
A Right to Participate in Your Child’s Parenting
As a father, you have a right to parent your child even during divorce. Parenting, in this case, may include providing for them, guiding them, and participating in their activities, such as attending their plays, among others. The mother of the child has no right to deny you the freedom to parent your child. If this happens, you can challenge her in a family court and establish your rights.
Seeing Medical and School Reports
As a father, you have a right to know how your child is doing both academically and health-wise, among other ways. As a father, you have a right to know your child is fairing in school and how to help them in case of weaknesses. The mother has no right to go to the school and inform them not to share information regarding your child with you. Equally, you have a right to monitor your child’s health. A doctor cannot deny you information on your child when you are a legal parent. If any of these happens, you have a legal right to challenge it in court and have these vital records shared with you.
Equally, you have a right to pick the doctor your child sees and make decisions on their medical treatments. When a significant medical decision has to be made, the hospital or doctor will always ask for the father’s involvement, hoping the mother will not lie about it. If this right is violated like any other right, the court allows you to challenge it.
The Right to Parent Your Child Without Interference from the Other Parent
Often following a divorce, parents begin to challenge the parenting skills of the other. However, this should not be the case. As the child’s father, you have a right to parent your child without the mother interfering with your parenting as long as the child’s rights are not violated. If the mother criticizes and interferes with your parenting, you can have the matter resolved legally.
Right to Discipline Your Child
The law does not indicate who has a legal right to discipline their child. If you are with the minor and they do wrong, you have a legal right to punish them, provided you do not endanger their lives. If you discipline your child within the law, the mother cannot interfere with it or successfully accuse you of mistreating the child.
Even as you fight for your rights as a father, you must understand that responsibilities accompany your rights. Some of the duties to you include:
- Providing the necessary financial support to the needs of your child,
- Protecting the minor from any harm or neglect,
- You have the responsibility to ensure your child gets an education, and
- Providing medical care to your child.
When you are a father, you do not need to go to court to establish your rights unless they are violated. The law recognizes your rights as already set when you have fathered a child in marriage. This means the rights to your child are automatic, and you should not allow them to be taken away from you even for a moment.
Unwed fathers also have rights, but the court requires proof of paternity for them to have the rights established. If the parents of the child are unmarried, the law does not automatically assume the child belongs to the partner. For a father, in this case, to have these rights, a signed declaration stating him as the biological parent must be obtained. If this is not done, you can file for the case to determine paternity in court.
Visitation and Custody Rights
After a divorce is finalized, another question arises on who should stay with the child. In California, the law allows each parent to seek visitation and custody rights. Even when your relationship with the mother of your child is over, you still have a right to seek custody or visit your child, especially if you were married.
If a mother files to have sole custody, you have a right to challenge it and show the court why you should have sole care or shared custody. If custody is not equally shared between you and the mother gets it, you still have legal rights to visitation.
When deciding on child custody cases, the judge considers the best interests of the minor. Under these considerations, the involvement of both parents in the lives of their children is ideal. However, if there is proof of a threat to the minor’s wellbeing from one parent, the court will award custody to the other parent.
Traditionally, child custody was often awarded to the mother, with the father receiving visitation rights and being expected to meet their responsibilities. Fortunately, with modern rulings, judges give custody to fathers after carefully evaluating the cases. The court will consider your ability to provide and care, as well as your relationship with the child.
Child custody in California is no longer awarded to the mother automatically. If you feel your child is better off with you, you have a right to file for full custody in court if not shared.
What to Focus on When Seeking Sole or Joint Custody in Court
When a marriage ends acrimoniously, the emotional bitterness can spill over to the kids. Parents often move to court seeking sole or joint custody of their children. Unfortunately, due to the distress, a father can lose focus and end up losing their case. This can be avoided with the involvement of an experienced family attorney who will guide you to focus on the following facts:
Equal and Shared Parenting Time
When seeking custody of your children, the focus should be on the wellbeing of the minors and not punishing your ex-spouse. Your attorney has these interests at heart and will ask you to evaluate the time you can devote to your children honestly. In this case, the age of your children and your work schedule must be taken into consideration.
For instance, if you work 40 hours a week, it means you only have evenings and weekends to share with your children and run personal errands. Additionally, this is only possible if your children are older teenagers that can stay by themselves for short periods like the time from school as they wait for you to come home. When this is the case, you may consider filing for joint custody, as is your right.
If the children are much younger, it means they require more attention and care. In such a case, you and your attorney must evaluate the needs of your child and suggest a schedule that allows you to have quality time with your child. The most critical guideline is the wellbeing of your child. If it is not possible to offer much-needed attention to a younger child, you can consider shared custody. This way, both parents are in the life of the child and give the best to them.
Equal and Shared Parental Decisions
Another area of consideration that is critical to focus on is being involved in significant decisions patterning your child. As a father with a right to custody of your child, seeking joint custody allows you to be involved in making decisions concerning your child’s wellbeing. Ideally, as a father, you should find joint custody to get an equal voice in the life of the child.
However, if you feel the child’s wellbeing is at risk if you share custody with the mother or she gets sole custody, the court allows you to present your case. With supporting evidence, your attorney will prove to the court why the mother is unfit to have custody of the child.
If there are cases of domestic violence with the mother being the aggressor or child neglect and abuse, you must provide evidence of the same in court. If the court is convinced, you get awarded sole custody. If the court finds the mother to cause substantial conflict, she is not open to co-parenting or has turned the children against you, the best interest of the minor is not with that parent. As you move to court to seek custody of your child, you should always put your child’s needs above yours and be objective about it.
Custody cases are marred with falsehoods from one parent to another. Fortunately, the court can see through this and focus on the child’s best interests. A mother can accuse you of violence or abuse towards the child to deny your custody. Family courts are always sensitive to the protection of children and their wellbeing, causing them to take the allegations seriously and investigating them.
As a father, you must remain vigilant of possible accusations that can deny you the right to custody or even visitation. But, with the help of your family attorney, you can prevail against the false allegations and win your custody case. Persons that fabricate falsehoods leave a trail of their mischief and often have done it before. The court allows you to present witnesses that will testify to your credibility and discredit the allegations made against you. Additionally, if you have any documentary evidence like emails, text messages, or posts in their social media platforms, they can be presented in court. The judge also being aware that false allegations do occur will take into consideration all evidence provided before ruling.
Custody Modification Rights
Most parents in a custody battle settle and accept the court’s decision. However, in some cases, modification proceedings may be required. For instance, if you settled for joint custody even with false allegations and the mother continues to accuse you and alienate the children falsely, you have a right to seek a modification of the ruling.
A parent that continues to condition and alienate their children as well as make false allegations doesn’t have the child’s best interests at heart. The courts know younger children are impressionable. And with consistent disparagement of the other parent, it can emotionally affect them.
As a father, you have a right and a responsibility to protect your children’s emotional wellbeing. Reporting these happenings to the family court is your legal right. With the help of your family lawyer, you can present evidence of the same and seek a modification of the custody ruling.
Common Mistakes Fathers Make
Because of the misconception that fathers don’t have equal rights as mothers in custody cases, many fathers end up making mistakes that can cost them dearly. Some of the common mistakes made by fathers during custody cases include:
Out-spending the Mother Believing it Helps
Some fathers are ill-advised that overspending in litigation will earn them favorable results. Family law in California has clear guidelines for custody and divorce cases, among others. This means the court will follow the set instructions that protect the interests of the minor and parents and are not influenced by the cost of your legal fees. Equally, showing that you spend more money on the children’s needs does not necessarily mean you have the best interests of the children at heart.
Focusing on your child’s interests and presenting your case without malice or any selfish desires earns you points with the court. Being over-zealous during your case can also expose you to other harmful things that are not consistent with your rights as a father.
Spreading Yourself Thin Financially
Husbands or fathers also make a mistake of being overly generous and lose sight of their plans. Some fathers want to look responsible and see if it influences the judge’s decision. Offering more child support than you can afford will result in you being in debt and unable to provide for your kids. Presenting your actual financial status is critical in safeguarding the future of your children.
Surrendering Your Rights
When faced with a divorce, some fathers surrender their rights to parenting time and custody. They assume it is in the interest of their children, and later they come to regret when they want access to their children and are denied. Some fathers in doing this believe the system to be biased against them. This is not true, especially in California. Never give up your rights to your children because you assume you will be denied and think it more natural to surrender them.
Failing to Seek Modification Orders
Some fathers fail to seek modification orders, especially when they cannot afford the support they are ordered to pay. Instead, they stop paying child support, which can be devastating to their finances later. If you feel that the amount you were ordered to pay or the children are not happy with the other parent, modifying the ruling is possible.
Find a Family Lawyer Near Me
Divorce does not only affect the couple but the children as well. When children are comfortable under the guidance and protection of both parents, their world can suddenly be turned upside down with divorcing parents. Safeguarding their interests in line with your rights as a father should be your priority. With the help of us at Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer, this is achievable. Call us at 310-695-5212 to discuss your case in detail.