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In California, is the Mother Guaranteed to Have More Custody Time?

Posted on April 1st, 2023

Is the mother guaranteed to have more custody time in California?

Many people wonder if the mother is guaranteed more custody time regarding child custody issues. Mothers were previously known as the primary care providers and nurturers, leading to a preference for granting mothers custody. The presumption no longer holds today, where parents often work outside the home and play an equal role in raising their children.

So, if you are wondering if the mother is guaranteed more custody time in California, the short answer is no, but let’s delve deeper into why this is the case.

Child Custody for Mothers

Forms of Custody in California

California has two main types of custody: physical and legal custody.

Legal Custody

This type of custody refers to the right and responsibility of a parent to make crucial decisions about their child’s welfare, including education, religious upbringing, and healthcare.

Legal custody can either be sole or joint custody. Sole legal custody means that one parent can decide the child’s welfare. On the other hand, joint legal custody means that both parents share the right and responsibility to make decisions about the child’s welfare.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to where the child lives and who provides for their day-to-day needs. Physical custody can be sole or joint. Sole physical custody grants one parent the right to spend most of the time with the child while the other gets visitation rights. In cases where physical custody is joint, the child spends significant time with both parents.

Do U.S Custody Laws Have Gender Preference?

U.S. laws do not contain gender preference. Most people in the past assumed that the mother had the upper hand in custody cases because, in most cases, the mother was the primary care provider. On the other hand, the father was assumed to have no possibility of being granted custody since they worked outside the home. Times have changed, and it has become increasingly common for both parents to work outside the home.

Therefore, court decisions are less likely to be gender-based, and instead, the courts determine custody based on the child’s best interests.

How Do California Courts Determine Custody?

Although parents have the option to agree on custody arrangements outside of court, there are situations where this may not be possible. In these cases, the courts can step in to make a decision by considering several factors, including:

  • The child’s age and health
  • The relationship between each parent and the child
  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs, financially and emotionally
  • Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse
  • The child’s wishes (if they are of a certain age)

Is it Possible for a Child to Express Their Preference for a Custodial Parent in California?

California Family Code 3042 allows a child of sufficient age and capacity to reason and to state a preference for custody or visitation. Generally, children 14 years or older can address custody and visitation in court.

The court will give due weight to the child’s preference, although it is not necessarily binding. For example, if a child prefers living with one parent who has a history of drug abuse, or one who is less strict, the court may not follow the child’s preference.

The court’s primary concern is the child’s best interests, and the child’s preference is just one of the factors to consider. If the preference is deemed detrimental to the child, the court may award custody to the other parent despite the child’s preference.

What Should You Do if You are Seeking Custody?

If you would like custody of your child(ren), the first step is to communicate with the other parent to reach an agreement. If you cannot agree with them, you may need to have a custody arrangement established by the court.

Obtaining custody can be overwhelming, and consulting with an experienced child custody attorney is essential. The attorney can guide you through the process, help you understand your rights and obligations, and represent you in court to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Contact the Experienced Los Angeles Child Custody Attorneys at the Harris Family Today

Contrary to the popular misconception that the mother is more favored in child custody battles in California, several factors are considered in determining the appropriate custody arrangement. If you are involved in a custody battle or anticipating one, the knowledgeable and experienced child custody attorneys at the Harris Family Law Group can help.  Contact us today at 310-745-8644  for guidance on your child custody case.