California Fathers’ Rights 2024 – What Are My Rights as a Dad?

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | Jul 09, 2023

Many fathers feel like the system works against them with regard to the custody of their children in a divorce. They feel like the mother has all the advantages. There’s no need to feel this way. With the right representation, there is no legal reason why any bias should be shown toward the mother. The law prohibits judges from doing so. If a father is willing to make the case for his rights, he has the same ones as the mother. However, ensuring that those rights are protected requires a legal team that is ready to stand firm to defend them.

Fathers’ Rights

It’s crucial to realize that a father has exactly the same rights as a mother in California. Judges in custody cases are required to make their decision based just on what is most beneficial for the child. They are legally prohibited from presuming that the sex or gender of one parent provides an inherent benefit for the children than the other.

That said, the specifics of a custody case can mean that the mother is granted more rights than the father, often because of the father’s work commitments. However, if a father can demonstrate that they can be as available as the mother, they are due equal rights to the children. If that can be shown, a judge must have a compelling reason, other than gender or sex, to take rights away. Some of the rights that a father is granted include:

  • Equal Parental Decision-Making – This is also known as joint legal custody. Fathers have an equal right as mothers regarding the decisions that are to be made about the child’s parenting, including medical, education, and religious decisions.
  • Equal Parenting Time – While a 50/50 arrangement is not possible in every case, it is important that fathers recognize that they have a right to fight for as close to that arrangement as they can manage. If their circumstances change, particularly as the child ages and is able to care for themselves for short periods of time, then fathers should make an effort to gain more custody time when possible.
  • Modification of Custody – There are a number of reasons why custody might be modified to give fathers more time with their children. In particular, if the mother attempts to alienate the children from the father or makes false claims regarding him, this should be brought to the attention of the court.
  • Protection Against False Allegations – False allegations are taken very seriously by the courts and can result in fathers’ getting greater or sole custody. If you are falsely accused, it’s important to remain calm, say nothing until you can speak with your lawyer, and let the legal process handle the matter.


Q: What Are My Parental Rights as a Father in California?

A: Put most simply, a father’s parental rights in California are the same as a mother’s. The law makes it clear that there shouldn’t be any bias based on gender/sex when determining things like child custody. However, it is important to recognize that, with regard to children, the courts are obligated to do what is in the interests of the child. This means that, for a father to get the rights that are due to him, he must be able to elaborate on why that is in the interests of the child. Some of the rights that fathers have include:

  • Equal parenting time
  • Equal decision-making rights
  • The opportunity for modification of the custody agreement when necessary
  • Protection against false allegations

The court must have a good reason for not giving fathers equal rights to raising and spending time with their children. However, holding the court accountable for that is something that can often be dependent upon strong legal representation.

Q: Can a Mother Keep the Child Away From the Father in California?

A: A mother must follow the custody agreement that was settled in court. If there is joint physical custody, then they must adhere to the schedule that was agreed upon. The same is the case for visitation rights that have been granted to the father. If the mother does not follow the process that the custody ruling prescribes, this can be grounds for reopening and modifying the custody agreement.

Q: Is the Mother Given Preference in Custody in California?

A: There are no legal grounds for giving the mother preference in California. In fact, courts are prohibited by law from favoring either parent on the basis of gender or sex. This means that fathers are to be seen as completely equal to mothers in the eyes of the court. Of course, it is important to recognize that the court is also required to do whatever is ideal for the child’s welfare in their decisions. They may find that, if the mother’s work situation allows for a better opportunity to watch the children, she may be granted greater physical custody. Whatever custody arrangement a father is seeking, it is vital that he has quality representation that is able to argue why it is optimal for the child involved.

Q: What Do I Do About False Allegations of Domestic Violence or Child Abuse?

A: Few things can be more frustrating and difficult to process than false allegations. However, despite the emotions that this can cause, you should ideally remain calm. Any kind of outburst could be used against you, so you will want to maintain self-control. From there, you should cooperate with the police but use your right to not say anything without your lawyer present. Once your lawyer is present, allow the legal process to unfold. That is the strongest chance you have of overcoming any false allegations.

Defend Your Rights With a Team You Can Trust

At Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, we understand the commitment that fathers have to do right by their children. We know how important it is to them to be a part of their children’s lives. We also understand how many fathers see the divorce and custody process as a threat to their ability to be what they want to be for their children. That’s why we are ready to stand up and fight for the rights of fathers. If you’re a father with a custody case at hand, then contact us and work with a legal team that you can trust to fight for you and your children.

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