Does the Mother Automatically Have Full Custody in California? (2024)

Does the Mother Automatically Have Full Custody in California?

Does the Mother Automatically Have Full Custody in California?It is a popular belief that mothers automatically receive custody of their children if the parents split, but this is not always the case. Who gets custody often depends on things like the couple’s marital status and each parent’s individual situation. To help improve your odds of receiving custody, contact a San Diego family law attorney.

Child Custody Case Process

The details of a child custody case process vary depending on the marital status of the parents. If the parents are married, then they can file for divorce. The divorce process includes child custody, so a separate case does not have to be filed. A Petition for Custody and Support can be filed as an alternative if the parents do not want to get divorced.

If the parents are unmarried, they must prove that both are biological parents of the child through a Petition to Determine Parentage. Only people who are considered legal parents have the right to request custody of a child if they are not married. Adopted parents are considered legal parents, and non-biologically related adults may become legal parents through adoption.

Unmarried Parents

In order for the father of a child to have parental rights and request custody, they must establish legal parentage. If they are unable to do this, then the mother typically receives full custody, especially if she has a copy of the birth certificate with her name. A father can prove their parentage through:

  • Birth Certificate: A child’s birth certificate with the father’s name added to it when the child was born can prove that they are a legal parent
  • A Voluntary Declaration of Parentage Form: This must be completed by both parents to be considered valid. Once this form is completed, it prevents either parent from requiring the other to undergo genetic testing or a legal case to establish parentage. The form can be signed when the child is born, at some government offices, or with a notary.
  • Parentage Case: A case can be filed with the court to prove that the father is a legal parent of the child. In some cases, the court will ask the father to take a genetic test to determine whether they are biologically related, but this is not the only factor considered. A father does not have to be directly related to the child in order to be deemed a parent by the court.

Once legal parentage is established, then both parents have the right to request custody by filing a Petition for Custody and Support. This petition lets the court know that you would like a judge to review your situation and make decisions for you regarding your children. They can decide things like who has legal custody, when and how often each parent spends time with their children (also known as visitation), and whether child support needs to be paid.

Married Parents

If the parents are navigating child custody as a result of a divorce, then either or both parent(s) can be considered for custody. The court typically looks at how much each parent was involved in their child’s life before the divorce and how capable they are of taking care of the child after the divorce.

If a parent does not have a reliable source of income or has other health issues, it might prevent the court from awarding custody to that parent due to them being deemed unfit for visitation or custody. It is also less likely for a court to establish custody if the parent did not engage with their children much before the divorce. However, each child custody case is unique and depends on specific factors in each situation, making custody cases difficult to predict.

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Q: What Makes a Father Unfit for Custody in California?

A: Some criteria that might make a father (or mother) unfit for custody in California include things like:

  • Evidence of a parent abusing their family
  • Certain mental illnesses or drug abuse
  • Financial issues
  • A parent not being very involved with their child before custody proceedings
  • Specific context, like a tense relationship between the parent and child

A judge will usually try to figure out whether each parent might be able to emotionally and financially support the child based on their current situation.

Q: What Do Judges Look for in Child Custody Cases?

A: Judges look for things like financial, emotional, and mental health in each parent to determine child custody. A judge’s main goal in a child custody case is to ensure that the child’s interests are protected as well as possible. They also look at employment history and income information to determine how well each parent might be able to provide for their child. If the child is old enough, their preferences might also be taken into account.

Q: At What Age Can a Child Choose Which Parent To Live With?

A: At 14 years old, a child’s choice of which parent to live with is considered in California child custody cases. Although their opinion is taken into account, children do not get to decide where they live solely based on preference alone. The judge can also look at things like the child’s level of maturity and capability to make reasonable judgments. Regardless of a child’s preferences, custody cases are complicated and incorporate many different factors into the decision.

Q: How Long Does a Child Custody Case Take in California?

A: Custody cases can take anywhere from six months to several years in California. The exact length depends on the specifics of the case. If a case must be tried in court, then it will take significantly longer than a case that is resolved out of court or through mediation. A case can also take longer if one parent is accused of a crime like drug use or domestic violence due to the time needed to undergo an investigation on these claims.

Experienced and Aggressive Representation

Child custody can be emotionally devastating for parents and children alike. Families going through a child custody case often benefit from an attorney to serve as a third party and prevent emotions from getting in the way of determining the family’s future. Schedule a consultation with Bickford Blado & Botros today to learn about how our firm can help you establish custody of your children.



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