Today, awarding full custody to the mother is no longer automatic during a divorce settlement. Now, the court looks at the cases deeper to see which parent, if not both of them, is a positive influence in the life of the child. There are also additional considerations, such as the effect on uprooting the child, current relationship with the parent, and schooling, just to name a few. Father’s today have rights, but they may need the help of a skilled attorney to ensure these rights are upheld.
Before custody is awarded in any case, the judge will want to hear testimony from all parties. This usually includes but is not limited to:
- Both Parents
- The Children
Depending upon the age of the children, the testimony will have a large impact on the final decision made by the courts. After all testimony is heard, the judge will award joint, partial, or sole custody. However, outright sole legal and physical custody is generally only awarded when one parent is deemed unfit or unsafe for the child. For instance, a parent that has been known to abuse drugs or alcohol would more than likely be deemed an unfit parent.
What is the Difference between Physical and Legal Custody?
While primary custody may be awarded to one parent (physical custody), decisions as to how the child is raised may be awarded to both parents (legal custody). In other words, the judge may decide the children will live with the father full time and grant the mother visiting days or weekends. However, no decision is to be made regarding schooling, medical care, religion, etc…without the consent of both parents.
It would be nice to think the courts have progressed, but the reality is that mothers still win the majority of sole custody cases. Because of this, unless the mother is abusive or presents other challenges to the welfare of the children, fathers are usually much better off filing for joint custody instead of full custody. The success rate for these cases is virtually double that of those filing for sole custody.
In order to have a much better chance of success, fathers are best served to hire a family law attorney specializing in child custody. He or she will be able to evaluate the case and give you a realistic picture in terms of the best course of action to take to ensure that you are able to see and spend time with your children on a regular basis.