2024 How to Get Full Custody of a Child as a Mother in California

We’re here to alleviate stress and provide compassionate law advice.

April 27, 2024

Being a parent can be difficult and filled with numerous challenges. However, it is also filled with love, appreciation, and happiness. For parents who are divorcing or otherwise ending their relationship, continuing to build those cherished memories and provide a wonderful life for the child is one of the many reasons they will seek custody of their child. For mothers in particular, this can be especially important and leave you wondering how to get full custody of a child as a mother in California.

While the law does not favor one parent over the other based on gender, there are steps that mothers can take to help gain custody of their child.

Types of Custody in California

Child custody cases are extremely complex. Processes that could begin as amicable can quickly turn contentious, with both the parents of the child vying for custody over the child. However, courts in California will make decisions for custody based on the best interests of the child. Those interests can lead to one of two types of custody awarded to either or both parents.

  • Physical custody. This type of custody relates to the physical location of the child.
  • Legal custody. This type of custody determines which parent has the legal decision-making on behalf of the child in regard to healthcare, religion, education, and more.

Both types of custody can be awarded as full or joint. Under full custody, one parent is granted sole legal rights. For example, if a parent has sole physical custody of the child, they are considered the primary home of the child. The other parent is granted appropriate visitation rights as either agreed upon by the parents or as ordered by the court. In joint custody, the child shares equitable time with both parents.

However, just because a parent is awarded sole physical custody does not mean that the same parent will be awarded legal custody. There are many factors that become a part of the decision, such as who the child should live with and who will make the decisions on behalf of the child. All of these factors come down to what is in the best interests of the child.

Taking a Child’s Interests Into Account

No matter how abrasive or vitriol an argument becomes over custody between the two parents, the reality is that their child is in the middle, with each parent thinking they can provide a better and more stable home than the other. When parents cannot agree on what should happen, the court will make a determination on what they feel is the decision that will put the child’s needs first. When making that decision, they will consider the following factors:

  • The overall health, stability, and safety of the child
  • The home environment that each parent can provide
  • Which parent the child wants to live with, if mature enough to make that choice
  • The involvement of the child with their community, school, and home
  • The ability of each parent to mentally and physically provide for the basic needs of the child
  • Any substance abuse disorders affecting either parent
  • Either parent’s history of child neglect, child abuse, or domestic violence

In addition to these important considerations, the court will need to determine how stable each parent’s home is. Factors that may contribute to this decision include:

  • The finances of both parents
  • How well the home environment will support the child’s physical and emotional well-being
  • The capability of each parent to provide basic needs such as food, water, shelter, and clothing
  • The willingness of each parent to successfully co-parent with the other in order to keep the child’s parental relationships happy and healthy

For mothers seeking to gain full custody of their child, you should be prepared to provide evidence that supports how you and your home are able to provide for the child’s needs more than the other parent.


Q: Does the Mother Automatically Have Full Custody in California?

A: In child custody cases, a mother is not automatically granted full custody. However, if the parents of the child are unmarried and were never married, the mother may be given custody if a paternity test is not used to prove the father’s identity or the father is not identified on the birth certificate. Without parental evidence, the father does not have any parental rights to claim.

Q: What Is the Biggest Mistake in a Custody Battle?

A: One of the biggest mistakes that a parent can make in a custody battle is to allow their emotions to take control. While custody battles are emotional processes, frustration and anger can result in making decisions that may not be in the best interests of the child. Some custody cases can turn into a parental battle rather than an opportunity to set the child up for success after the divorce or end of the parental relationship.

Q: Who Wins the Most Custody Battles?

A: Outdated stereotypes and traditions have resulted in mothers often winning the most custody battles. Because mothers have traditionally been viewed as caretakers and the ones in charge of the home, this status quo has created an imbalance that assumes their role as the ones who care for the children. However, these trends are beginning to change and are showing more equitable outcomes.

Q: What Not to Say During a Custody Battle?

A: If you are involved in a child support case, there are several things you should not say. You should avoid any type of dishonesty towards the court, any disrespect towards the other parent, any refusal to participate in the process, and much more. Your attorney can help you better understand what to avoid saying or doing when in a custody battle.

Child Custody Attorney

Child custody disagreements can be extremely difficult processes to navigate. While history may side mostly with the mother, there are specific steps you should take to help improve your chances of gaining custody. No doubt this process will fill you with questions. When you need answers about your custody case, contact the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin, APC.

Call today to speak with Hollie A. Lemkin to discuss your questions & issues!


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