In determining a child’s best interests, the California Family Code only lays out two guiding principals:

  • The health, safety, and welfare of children must be a court’s primary concern, and
  • Children benefit from frequent and continuing contact with both parents

So, Knowing that, What are Steps Fathers Need to Take to Win in Family Law Court?

  1. Be active with your child’s education and extracurricular activities. Regardless of whether you have your children, you must stay involved in their life. Attend parent/teacher conferences, go to their sporting games, support them at their music recitals. Being proactive about these issues shows the judges that you are supportive of your child.
  2. Collaborate with your co-parent. Courts recognize and praise parents who show a willingness to work together to raise their children. Although this is essentially basic co-parenting, we have seen parents lose custody because they were unwilling to work together. You need to show the family court that you are willing to do this, even if it’s difficult, for the benefit of your child.
  3. Give them their own space in your home. Be sure to have all the essentials that your child needs in your home, including clothes, toiletries, toys, and bedding. You don’t want them to be living out of a suitcase uncomfortably. That way, your child feels like your home is their home too.
  4. Exercise your parental rights. Make sure you exercise your parental rights, especially if you’ve been granted visitation rights with your child. Spend as much time with them as you can. If you aren’t even exercising the time you have now, the court will not give you more if you try to modify child custody.
  5. Support your co-parent’s relationship with your child. Sadly, we have seen parents try to sabotage their child’s relationship with the other parent in an effort to win custody. This is not the right way to go about it and will result badly if the courts uncover your actions. Respect your co-parent’s time and encourage a healthy relationship between them and your child. In the end, it is in their best interest to have a relationship with both parents.
  6. Make a good impression in court. Child custody disputes are adversarial in nature, and one of the hardest things to do in a battle is to remain level headed (And remember you may be held at a different standard than your ex wife or girlfriend). Do everything you can to present yourself as a competent, involved, and loving parent. You should arrive on time, dress appropriately, and demonstrate proper courtroom etiquette in front of the judge. If you can’t even keep it together when a judge or mediator is watching, it could show that you are not likely to stay calm when you are alone with your child.

Child Custody disputes are extremely emotional and nothing guarantees an outcome in California Family Law Courts, but following these 6 steps can greatly improve your likelihood of success in California Family Law Courts.


What Do Legal Custody and Physical Custody Mean in California Family Law Courts?

n California, the Family Code does not favor Mothers or Fathers. Either parent can have custody of the children, or the parents can share custody. The judge makes the final decision about custody and visitation but usually will approve the parenting plan if the parents can agree. If the parents cannot agree, the judge will make a decision at a court hearing.

Types of Custody Orders in California

There are two kinds of child custody:

  • Legal custody, which means who makes important decisions for your children such as health care, education, and welfare; and
  • Physical custody, which means who your children live with.

Legal custody can be:

  • Joint, where both parents share the right and responsibility to make important decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the children.


  • Sole, where only 1 parent has the right and responsibility to make the important decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the children.

Parents with legal custody make decisions or choices about their children’s:

  • School or childcare
  • Religious activities or institutions
  • Psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health counseling or therapy needs
  • Doctor, dentist, orthodontist, or other health professional (except in emergency situations)
  • Sports, summer camp, vacation, or extracurricular activities
  • Travel
  • Residence (where the children will live)

Parents who share legal custody both have the right to make decisions about these aspects of their children’s lives, but they do not have to agree on every decision. Either parent can make a decision alone.

Physical custody can be:

  • Joint, which means that the children live with both parents.
  • Sole (or primary) which means the children live with 1 parent most of the time and usually visit the other parent on certain days or at certain times.

Joint physical custody does not mean that the children must spend half the time with each parent. When one parent has the children more than half of the time, then that parent is sometimes called the “primary custodial parent.”

Sometimes, the courts give parents joint legal custody, but not joint physical custody. This means that both parents share the responsibility for making important decisions in the children’s lives, but the children live with one parent most of the time. The parent who does not have physical custody usually has visitation with the children.

If you find yourself with a child custody dispute in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino Counties, or Greater Southern California, don’t trust just anyone with the future of you and your children, Call “The Fathers Rights Attorney” for trusted legal counsel for child custody matters to help you successfully navigate California Family Law Courts at 951-482-7517 or book a consultation online here