What are the chances of a father winning custody?


Many people believe  in custody disputes the law prefers mothers to have custody of the child instead of the father. This is not the case in California. The law does not give either parents a preference on the basis of sex. Thus, the chances of a father winning custody should be the the same as the chances of the mother winning custody.

Are mothers given preference in child custody?

The answer is complicated. Below I will explain you how the family code contributes to this unequal outcome based on sex. 

Primary Caretaker/Caregiver Rule

Whether you are the father or the mother has little impact on who gets custody in California family courts. What matters is who is the primary caretaker/caregiver of the child. If the father is the primary caretaker then his chances goes up. If the mother is the primary caregiver, then her chances of winning custody goes up. Historically mothers have assumed more of the caretaking role. In the modern age, things are changing. Many fathers are now primary caretakers since the father is the parent who changes diapers, takes the child to school or to doctor’s, cooks while the mother is out working to support the family. Therefore, as society is changing the perception that the law favors mothers over father in child custody disputes will change as well.


In short, even though the law does not give either parent custody based on sex. Historical gender role makes it seem like mothers are given custodial preference in court. However, if you have been the primary caretaker your chances of getting custody goes up whether you are the mother or the father.