Once upon a time the presumption in California family courts was that mothers, not the fathers, were the more capable parent to take care of a child. This presumption started to slowly dissipate in the 1960s and 1970s due to the Feminist Movement and the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM).
Today, this presumption no longer exists in California’s family courts. Instead, father’s now have the same equal rights as mothers with regard to child rearing issues, such as visitation, custody and support. Fathers now have the presumption that they are just as capable as taking care of their children as mothers.
Fathers’ Rights Under the Law
Fathers’ rights, as it relates to California family law, refer to a relatively modern movement which seeks to remedy historical discrimination on the basis of gender in the family court system. This is especially the case as it relates to child custody. As fathers’ rights advocates grew more prevalent, the courts started to replace their Tender Years Doctrine with a more inclusive “Best Interest of the Child” standard in determining child custody.
The rise of the Best Interest standard also gave rise to the concept of “joint custody,” allowing the father to seek custody of his child. This, coupled with the shifting of traditional gender roles in the household, continues to give fathers the same rights as mothers.
Father’s enjoy the same rights as mothers now under California law, including:
- The right to a relationship with his children
- The right to legal and physical custody
- The right to visit his children
- The right to receive child support from the mother
- The right to request to modify existing child support or custody
- The right to participate in his children’s daily activities, including other major decision such as health, education and religion
- The right to have his children move to his home
- The right to take time off work to spend with his newborn child (under the Family Medical Leave Act)
- The right to enforce child custody, child support or visitation orders
Fighting for the Rights of Fathers
Despite the statutory safeguards under California family law to protect fathers’ rights, many fathers still believe that it is not the law that favors mothers in court so much as people who carry out the law (i.e. judges, mediators, social services, etc.).
Even if this bias does not actually exist, the perception that fathers are not afforded a fair shake in family court both directly and indirectly impacts fathers’ custody battles. This makes it even more important for fathers to make sure they are legally represented by an experienced Central Valley divorce attorney to protect their legal rights.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Divorce Attorney
If you are in the process of getting a divorce or plan on initiating one, it is important that you have a knowledgeable attorney fighting for your rights. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Central Valley divorce attorney, please call Gurjit Srai (209) 323-5558 or complete our online form.