Getting divorced requires you to thoughtfully address a variety of different issues that all have significant long-term implications. As a father, one of the most important of these issues is ensuring that you will have the ability to spend time with your children.
In most cases, divorced parents will share what is commonly referred to as “joint legal and joint physical custody.” California law requires all child custody determinations to be made in the best interests of the children involved; and, as a matter of policy, the State of California recognizes that it is generally in a child’s best interests to spend significant and meaningful time with both parents.
Joint physical custody vs. Full Custody in California
In a typical joint physical custody scenario, one parent will be designated as the primary custodian and provide the child’s primary residence, and the child will have scheduled “parenting time” with his or her other parent. This could mean that the child spends every other weekend with his or her non-custodial parent, it could mean that both parents have equal parenting time, or the parents could agree to any other arrangement that meets their needs while also serving their child’s best interests.
Due to the nature of California’s child custody laws and their focus on promoting meaningful relationships between children and both of their parents, scenarios in which one parent receives full custody (or “sole physical custody”) are relatively uncommon. However, there are undoubtedly circumstances in which it is not in a child’s best interest to spend time with one of his or her parents (or at least not to spend unsupervised time with one of his or her parents), and California’s child custody laws address these types of scenarios as well.
Seeking Full Physical and/or Legal Custody as a Father in a California Divorce
In order to seek full custody of your children in a California divorce, as a father, it is necessary to show that it is not in your children’s best interests to live with their mother at least a portion of the time. As you can probably imagine, this is usually an uphill battle. While California law does not inherently favor the mother in child custody matters, it also recognizes the importance of preserving the maternal relationship, and there must typically be extreme circumstances to warrant an award of full custody.
When might an award of full legal and physical custody be appropriate? While all cases require a critical analysis of the particular facts and circumstances involved, the types of scenarios in which full custody tends to be awarded include those involving:
- Alcohol or drug abuse in the home
- A history of domestic violence or child abuse
- State or federal incarceration
- Abandonment of childrearing responsibilities
However, even in these types of situations, a judge may conclude that the child should spend at least some time with both parents. Oftentimes, when an award of full custody is appropriate, the non-custodial parent will still have limited – and perhaps supervised – visitation hours at a designated location.
These tend to be challenging circumstances for everyone involved; and, if you believe that you need to seek full custody in order to protect your children, you should discuss your options with an experienced divorce attorney. There may be steps you can take before you file for divorce that will improve your chances of securing full custody, and you will need to approach your divorce strategically in order to achieve the outcome you desire.
Request an Initial Case Evaluation with North County, CA Divorce Lawyer Richard M. Renkin
If you would like more information about seeking full custody during your divorce, please contact us to schedule an initial case evaluation. To request an appointment with North County, CA divorce lawyer and Certified Family Law Specialist Richard M. Renkin, call 619-299-7100 or inquire online today.