California parents who decide to divorce may face a difficult time when dealing with child custody and support. Some divorcing parents are quickly able to negotiate an amicable solution on these matters and develop a parenting plan that honors both parents’ role in the children’s lives. However, divorcing spouses with a more contentious relationship may find themselves embroiled in a battle over child custody. As a result, many mothers and fathers feel as if they are treated unfairly in court.

Some mothers may feel that they are not taken seriously, while fathers may be concerned that they will face gender bias and be excluded from their children’s lives. The statistics may give credence to those concerns, as up to 80 percent of custody cases are resolved with primary custody to the mother. However, most of these situations don’t involve a father seeking child custody; when fathers actively pursue custody, they experience far more positive outcomes. And while some judges may have traditional biases leading to unjust outcomes, joint or shared custody is becoming the legal best practice across the country whenever possible.

Child support can also be a major concern, especially when a paying parent suffers financial hardship after a support order is established. Support payments are based on a state formula that includes parental income as well as other factors. When a parent loses his or her job or becomes disabled, the former payments may become impossible to meet. When child support debt racks up, parents could even face jail time for contempt of court.

Parents can take action to avoid an increasingly desperate situation, however. A family law attorney may be able to work with a parent to go back to family court for a child support modification. A modified order can reflect a parent’s current circumstances after a documented hardship, helping them to escape mounting debt.