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Do Fathers Have Equal Rights During Divorce in California?


A common question asked of a San Diego divorce attorney is whether men and women have equal rights in divorce. This question becomes especially pressing for fathers. Many fathers worry they may be at a disadvantage when it comes to things like child custody. Here’s what worried fathers need to know about this issue.

Every father has a right to be involved in their children’s lives.

California law states that fathers must be involved in all aspect of their children’s lives. This includes everything from school to healthcare. Even things like the child’s religious upbringing should involve the father’s input. Divorcing in California should never mean a father leaving his children’s lives.

Fathers can expect joint physical custody

As long as the father has played a significant role in their child’s life, he should be awarded joint physical custody. “A significant role” means being actively involved in important decisions. Joint physical custody should guarantee a father regular time with their child. How this works depends on a few different factors. Fathers should talk closely with their divorce lawyer to try and get the best deal possible. They shouldn’t settle for being a weekend dad if they have more free time available.

Decisions aren’t final

After divorce proceedings have been completed, it’s still possible to alter the custody you’ve been offered. Parents can review joint custody orders when there’s a change in circumstances. “A change in circumstances” could be something as simple as getting more time off at work. Anything that alters your ability to spend time with your child is a “change in circumstances.”

Father’s rights begin at birth

Unborn children are subject to the same custody rules. As soon as a baby is born, the father should have visitation rights. This work in exactly the same way as they would for older children.

Child support should be fairly calculated

Divorce proceedings usually require the higher earner to pay child support. This will be calculated using computer software to match California state guidelines. Anyone with the same circumstances as you should pay the exact same amount. It’s worth noting that being a stay-at-home mom is not a legal right. If fathers feel they are unfairly paying child support to a mother that refuse to work, they can complain. It is possible to get a court order requiring the mother to make a reasonable attempt to find employment.

Child support payments must be made

If fathers have any problems paying child support they should contact the court. It is possible to get a payment plan which can help take care of missed payments. Child support payments are based on your salary, but unemployment doesn’t stop them. If a father loses his job, he should inform the court immediately. He should continue paying at the agreed rate until a modification is official. Failure to pay can have severe consequences.

Child support is not gender dependent

While child support is typically seen as coming from an estranged husband to their wife, it can go the other way. The court will determine who is the higher earner. If the father earns less, he’s entitled to the exact same child support as the mother would be.


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