What are the chances of a father getting 50/50 custody in California?

The difficulties that come with a divorce are compounded when there are children involved. Working out a custody arrangement is hard, and everyone wants the best interests of the child to be the highest priority. California courts favor 50/50 arrangements as much as possible, hoping to keep both parent-child relationships strong. If you are dealing with the process of divorce and custody arrangements, you may be trying to understand how you and your ex-spouse can achieve a 50/50 custody split.

Legal and Physical Custody

Child custody in California is separated into two parts: legal and physical custody. A parent having physical custody means that child lives with them, and that parent takes care of their day-to-day needs. Legal custody means a parent can make important decisions regarding their child’s schooling, healthcare, or religious upbringing.

Sole custody places the responsibility on one parent. Sole legal custody means only one parent makes those decisions, and sole physical custody means the child lives with one parent, with the other often retaining visitation rights.

What Is 50/50 Custody?

Joint custody, though responsibilities are shared, does not mean an equal split of those responsibilities. Often, one parent is still named the primary caregiver in a joint physical custody arrangement, while the other parent has scheduled parenting time. Joint legal custody allows parents to collaborate on legal and upbringing decisions.

It is considered a 50/50 arrangement when parents have joint legal and physical custody, and attempts are made to make joint custody as equal as possible. A 50/50 child custody arrangement is often considered the ideal outcome, as child custody laws aim to foster the relationship between the child and both of their parents.

How 50/50 Custody Is Achieved

To reach a 50/50 custody split, a lot of cooperation is required between the parents. Either ex-spouses can work together outside of court to create a 50/50 custody arrangement, or a judge will order it in certain circumstances in court. For a judge to order it, they will need to see that there is cooperation between parents and that both parties live close enough to each other to make the arrangement work. Parents who are at odds will appear unable to reach an amicable joint custody agreement.

Because the child’s best interests are at the forefront, both parties must show that they can communicate to successfully work out a schedule and plan for shared custody. A child’s schooling, medical needs, extracurriculars, and established life are all considered when determining if a 50/50 custody plan is in their best interests.

Creating a 50/50 Parenting Plan

Presenting a parenting plan in court can provide evidence that both parties can work together in their child’s best interests. It may also provide both parties with some control over the court-ordered schedule. If you have the option to avoid litigation altogether for your divorce, this can give you significantly more control over the outcome of child custody arrangements.

Although spending equal time with each parent is ideal, it is not always logistically possible. Schedule conflicts are common, and holidays make for especially complicated split custody schedules. Parents who live further from each other will have a harder time maintaining split custody. Living closer together makes it easier to switch houses every few days. Working together with your ex-spouse is the most effective way to create a strong parenting plan and work out a 50/50 custody split.


Q: How can a father get 50/50 custody in California?

A: In some situations, the judge will order a 50/50 custody split if it seems in the child’s or children’s best interests. If parents can work together outside of court to create an agreement, a 50/50 split can be obtained that way. This show of cooperation can also help convince a judge to order an equal split.

Q: Can a father demand 50/50 custody?

A: Neither party is entitled to a 50/50 custody split or any specific custody arrangement. California courts prefer to keep strong parent-child relationships through consistent time with both parents, but in some cases that is not in the child’s best interests. The best interests of the children are the most important consideration in child custody decisions.

Q: How hard is it for a father to get full custody in California?

A: California courts do not favor one parent over the other. For a father to gain full custody, he must show that living with their mother is not in the best interest of the child or children. Preserving relationships with both parents is important, so severe circumstances, such as drug abuse, domestic violence, or incarceration, must be shown. Extreme situations like this can result in full legal and physical custody, but this is not a certainty. Limited or supervised visitation may also be a part of sole custody.

Q: How far apart can parents live and still have 50/50 custody in California?

A: Distance has a significant impact on custody decisions. A child needs access to their schooling, healthcare, and extracurriculars. A divorce is already a stressful change, and their lives should continue to be as routine as possible. 20 miles between parents is considered “long distance” by California law. Even 5 miles of distance can create issues in the child’s commute to the necessary places. Living far from your ex-spouse means you will likely have less custody. The closer you live, the more likely a 50/50 split will be an option.

Advocate for a Joint Custody Arrangement

If you and your ex-spouse are working out a custody arrangement outside of court, having a child custody attorney by your side can help speed up the process and mediate the outcome. When you are hoping for a joint custody arrangement in court, it can be especially helpful to have advocacy from an experienced family law and divorce attorney.

Although court orders can be changed, it is much easier to find the best option for your children, you, and your ex-spouse the first time you are in court. Mistakes in family court can affect the outcome of your family’s life. Having an attorney can prevent those mistakes. For skilled legal representation, contact the Law Offices of Patricia A. Rigdon to see how we can help you advocate for fair custody.