Divorce can be a confusing time, and if you act on incorrect advice that you read on the internet or got from a well-meaning but ill-informed friend, it could jeopardize your chances of getting the custody deal you need.
How judges handle custody now is very different from how they did so decades ago. Yet, not everyone realizes things have changed.
Modern courts treat fathers more equally in custody
Here are some common false beliefs:
- Courts favor the mother: California judges work on the principle that children need both parents in their life. They no longer assume that children are better off with their mothers.
- Your child can only live with one of you: There are several ways to split custody. It does not always come down to the child living with one parent and the other getting visitation rights, which was once the norm. If you can work it so that your child spends nights with each of you, then a court should accept that. Bear in mind that this will be more complex if one of you moves far. You want the child to be able to get to school each day, without spending hours traveling.
- Custody gives one person total control: There is no one “custody.” California splits child custody into two areas — physical and legal. Physical refers to who the child lives with. Legal concerns the right to make decisions. Even if the child lives with one parent full time, a judge will typically award joint legal custody. This maintains the other parent’s rights in choices about schooling, healthcare and religion. For a judge to award one parent sole legal custody, they would need to see a serious issue with the other parent.
Getting the wrong information will hinder your chances of a successful custody outcome. Do not be afraid to get help to understand the facts.