When parents in California divorce, child custody is often a significant issue. Both parents may be concerned about the well-being of their children, and fathers in particular may be worried about maintaining a meaningful relationship with their offspring. In some cases, a joint custody arrangement may be possible.

Throughout much of history, and into the beginning of the 20th century, fathers in the United States generally had a right to custody of their minor children. However, a shift in the early 1900s led to a trend of awarding custody to the mother unless she could be proven unfit in the courts.

Changing ideas about parental roles, as well as the best interest of children, has resulted in another change. Courts are more willing to provide fathers with ample parenting time and are more likely to enforce a father’s right to spend time with his children. In addition, fathers are more likely to receive joint or sole custody if they ask for it.

Mothers still have physical custody of their children in most cases, although joint legal custody, which gives both parents the right to make decisions about their children, is increasingly common. Many child development experts believe that joint custody arrangements offer benefits to children and that if both parents are willing to commit to the best interests of their children, joint custody arrangements can be worked out.

Parents who are considering divorce may benefit from speaking with a family law attorney. An attorney may recommend strategies for crafting a joint custody agreement that meets the needs of all parties. In addition, the attorney may work with a mediator to address disagreements between the parents and help everyone work toward an amicable solution.