Last Updated: January 2, 2023
In child custody or divorce cases, it is easy for the court to overlook a father’s custody rights because mothers, over time, have typically been awarded primary custody (also known as “primary allocation of parental responsibility”). Complicating the issue is the fact that many fathers are unaware of their rights, believing that they are not entitled to an equal amount of custody. In truth, child custody decisions are made based on a standard known as “the best interest of the child,” leaving fathers with just as much of a right to custody as a mother. Father’s custody rights should be the same as a mother’s, and dads should take advantage of free attorney consultations to learn more.
How to Get Equal Custody Rights as a Dad
In many cases, family law courts will attempt to start from the idea that is best to award joint custody (shared allocation of parental responsibility) to the parents in a divorce. This usually quickly changes in favor of the mother though. Joint custody for a father means that he gets an equal say in making decisions for their child. It might also mean equal parenting time in some instances. Knowing this, a father needs to toe the line and be as close to perfect as possible to win his case.
Present a Strong Case
If a father is looking to win equal custody with the mother, he will need to present a very strong case to the judge. This includes showing that the father is a fit and responsible parent that can (and does) meet the child’s physical and emotional needs. Evidence will need to be provided to the court of his involvement in the child’s life. For example: consistently providing financial support, playing a regular and active role in the child’s education, and having a close connection with the child.
Can You Co-Parent? (you need to try!)
A father needs to demonstrate that he is able and willing to co-parent with the mother. This is a huge factor that courts will look at when making a custody decision. A father needs to show that he is willing to cooperate and work with the mother to jointly make decisions about the child’s upbringing.
Hiring a Father’s Right’s Lawyer
A father’s custody rights lawyer can explain what needs to be done in simple terms that the average person will understand. Legal jargon and wording in many legal documents leave parents more confused than when they began dealing with the issue. An attorney simplifies the process so fathers are aware of their rights and can use these to get the amount of custody they deserve.
Unfortunately, some fathers do not retain legal counsel. They are left to decipher custody laws and guidelines on their own, which can be very frustrating. They may forfeit some rights to custody of their children because they do not know any better. If they ever do realize this, the resulting battle for custody can be brutal and affect the children in a negative way. Father’s custody rights are important to defend and you must be aware the pitfalls to avoid.
Having a father’s custody rights lawyer on their side changes things for dads. Many a custody case has been won by fathers due to help from an attorney (truth be told: the cards are stacked against men, without an attorney, dad’s stand little chance of winning). The expense to retain counsel is nothing compared to the ability to spend more time building memories with the children. Some lawyers even offer special financial arrangements to fathers who need help but are unable to afford paying legal fees in a lump sum.
Fathers may request legal or physical custody of their children. Legal custody is the right to make decisions regarding the lives of the children, while physical custody is the right to live with the children. Some parents share physical custody, with the children spending a portion of time with each one. Legal custody may be granted only to one parent or jointly so parents may share in the decision-making. Knowing that a father’s custody rights are as important as a mothers is a big first step and something that courts are beginning to recognize.
Top 5 Things for Father’s Custody Rights
There are numerous factors that a court uses to determine who should have custody, parenting time (visitation), and who should be involved in decision making for the child. The top 5 things a dad needs to do right now include:
- Be an active and involved parent: In order to win father’s custody rights, a dad will have to demonstrate to the court that he has been an active and involved parent before and during the divorce process. Coaching little league teams, helping with homework, and taking the child to doctors appointments all help to show an active and involved relationship between the child and dad.
- Prove that you are a fit and responsible parent: Every parent (especially in a father’s custody rights case) needs to prove to the judge that he can provide for the child’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs as the child grows up. Showing that you have a stable living situation (ie. Not moving every year or staying with friends) means a lot.
- Co-parent with the mother: A family law court will not even consider awarding joint custody if the dad refuses to attempt to co-parent with the mom. The parents need to be able to get along a little so that they can jointly make child-related decisions. If this is not proven, a judge will not award joint custody.
- No conflicts and negative behavior: This means not fighting with mom in the presence of the child. It means no bad-talking mom to or around the child. All of these things are huge no-no’s and they need to be avoided at all costs.
- Hire a father’s custody rights attorney: A father’s rights lawyer will help a dad present the strongest possible case to the court and fight for his rights as a parent.
The topic of father’s custody rights is a complex one. Understanding it requires legal expertise and a knowledge of the court system. Fathers can gain this knowledge on their own or get help from a father’s rights lawyer. Either way, they should fight for custody if they want to remain in the lives of their children. Getting a free consultation is the first and probably the most important step to winning your case.