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California fathers may benefit from new joint custody movement

In the past, a child custody dispute in California would, by and large, be decided in favor of the mother. Now, however, there is greater flexibility regarding the possibility of joint custody. A movement is gaining traction for fathers to have a better chance of sharing physical custody with the mothers, and many states are considering legislation that would give fathers more time with their children.

This issue is attracting more attention and fathers are seeing changes as to how a decision is made in a custody dispute. Before this, a decision on legal custody often hinged on the gender of the participants, even though ostensibly it was predicated on the best interests of the child.

As one Nebraska study found, fathers often had trouble even seeing their children. It was shown that nearly three-quarters of noncustodial fathers in cases arising between 2002 and 2012 only saw their children an average of slightly over five days out of every month. In 2013, the National Parents Organization performed a comprehensive, nationwide study to rank the states on their laws when it comes to child custody and shared parenting. The majority received poor grades with half the states receiving a grade of D or worse. None received an A. Since divorce can be difficult for many children, studies have indicated that the negatives can be reduced if both parents are allowed to spend an equal amount of time with them after the split.

While most cases put forth the impression that the parents are battling over the child, a custody determination is not about one side 'winning" and the other side 'losing." It is about what will most benefit the child's future. The key is parental involvement and and raising a healthy child. An attorney might assist a divorcing client in negotiating a parenting plan that provides for roughly equal access.

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