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Do California Courts Favor Mothers in Child Custody Cases?

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If you are getting divorced in California and you wonder if the California court favors mothers, you aren’t alone. Parenting, under any circumstances, is hard. When divorce arrives on the scene, followed by custody disputes, the difficulty intensifies. Parents in this situation often find a lack of legal knowledge leads to doubts and misconceptions. One of the most common misconceptions is that the court favors the mother in custody cases, but they do not.

California child custody, governed by Sections 3040-3049 of the Family Code, requires judges to follow the preferred order of custody options set down by law. When determining custody, the court must consider both physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the legal residence of the child or where they live. Physical custody includes the issues of housing, feeding, and caring for the children. Legal custody refers to the parental right to make decisions on behalf of the child on essential matters like education, religion, and health. 

The preferred order of custody: 

1: Joint full custody awarded to both parents

2: Sole full custody awarded to one parent

3: Physical custody awarded to one parent and legal custody awarded to the other parent

4: Legal and physical custody awarded to one parent with the other parent awarded just one (usually legal custody)

In most cases involving a non-custodial decision, the California judge will grant the non-custodial parent specific visitation rights. 

Are Mothers Favored in Child Custody Disputes? 

The myth that California courts favor mothers in custody disputes is persistent, but the law does not support the myth. According to California law, no parent gets preferential treatment in custody disputes, and neither parent in a child custody case is given an advantage over the other. The California judge bases child custody decisions on the best interests of the child, depending on the family’s unique circumstances. 

Factor California Judges Consider When Making Child Custody Decisions: 

The California family law court is required to make decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child. To determine what is in the child’s best interest, the judge considers numerous factors: 

  • The parent’s ability to provide for the child (employment, income, etc.)
  • The emotional bonds between the child and each of their parents
  • Criminal history, abuse or substance abuse problems of either parent
  • The location (geographically) of each parent
  • Any physical or emotional handicaps of the parties involved
  • Any applicable siblings’ or family members’ needs

Some parents believe that the child should have the right to choose their own custody situation during a divorce. This can be a weighty burden for a child to carry. While the California court will frequently consider a child’s preferences, they are rarely a controlling factor in the final custody decision.

Even with the myths about California mothers being favored in child custody disputes dispelled, custody battles are not easy. It is beneficial to have the right attorney by your side to guide you through the system.

The experienced divorce attorneys at The Maggio Law Firm are well versed in custody disputes and can help you with your child custody case.

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