Dads in California tend to have a harder time getting a fair shake during the divorce process than their female counterparts. Officially, laws in most states do not favor one parent over the other. However, there are still instances where judges instinctively side with the mother unless there are unique circumstances involved. Eighty percent of custodial parents in the United States are mothers. Yet there are some ways dads may be able to effectively deal with issues they may face concerniing custody or support.

If child custody involves payments, it’s often the dad who ends up paying if they do not have full or joint custody. In some situations, a father may honestly have valid reasons for not being able to make court-ordered payments. Support payments can’t be automatically reduced without court intervention, but a dad may be able to request an appropriate modification of an existing child support agreement. In some cases, it may be possible for the paying spouse to work out arrangements with the custodial parent to catch up on payments.

When it comes to seeking custody, “unofficial dads,” tend to have a harder time. This term refers to situations where unmarried people have a child together. Typically, the woman who gave birth to the child automatically has custody. But the father may be able to file legitimization papers. Issued by a court, these documents legally establish a man as being the official father of a child. It’s also advised that fathers not living with the mother come forward as soon as possible in an attempt to establish a relationship with the child.

Should a custody dispute arise involving a father, a lawyer may attempt to work out a shared custody arrangement between the parents since courts tend to prefer this type of arrangement. When joint custody isn’t possible, an attorney may suggest creating a reasonable visitation schedule. A lawyer might recommend seeking a protection order if a father believes their child may not be safe with the mother. Legal representation may also be helpful when working out support payment arrangements, seeking modifications, or attempting to establish paternity.