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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Next Steps

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.

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9 thoughts on “Father’s Custody Rights Should Be Equal to a Mother”

  1. Women should definitely have more reproductive rights than men. Men can spend literally five minutes making a child. Women have to carry the baby in their womb for more than half a year, give birth to it(which HURTS), breastfeed the baby. take care of it, ect.
    If the man and the woman played an EQUAL role in making a child, of course they would have equal reproductive rights. Every single man talking about how horrible it is that they don’t have a say in abortion will NEVER have to make that choice.

  2. Hi mom of 3, you sound like the usual narcissistic mother who does more damage to children as you don’t see them as autonomous beings…only as an extension of yourself, part of your body and no one else’s, shameful, there’s more to being a mum than just playing the victim, YOU are the reason the law needs to change.

  3. Brian, My son is expressing the exact feeling and as the family of on the father side we are all unaccounted too. I understand 100 what you are saying this is a sad situation that society accepts and ignores government has no real solution for creating equal parenting at all. I feel sick to my stomach at our legal system need why have senior adults not stepped in to support the rights for everyone to share during all stages of the child experiences. As the grandparents we are at the mercy of the emotional “hurt” mom.. it is sad.

  4. Every good dad is given the right to his kids if hes willing to be in the kids life and has a place and a steady income women seem to try to hurt a man buy taking his equal right to see his kids and try to milk him for every pennie cuz a failed relationship which i this is b.s dads need more rights good dads !!!

  5. No way should fathers have equal rights.. Im sorry but it is a very PHYSIOLOGICAL reason woman are more bonded to child… If you could carry a precious human life in side of you and feed it off of your body 9+ months and give birth. risk your life to create another and breast feed them for a year off of your body. THEN YOU CAN TELL ME YOU DESERVE EQUAL RIGHTS TO PARENTING custody etc. this is total BS….not saying all women are great moms.but we carry ALL THE RISKS… FACT!

    1. Hi mom of 3,

      Im encouraged by your words and believe that if a father is not dangerous and is stable he should be allowed too . However I do believe if they are not stable and violent they should not be allowed to see the child. Well how do we know if they are is the question to ask? it seems like men just want us in our place and that no matter what we cant escape and to top it all off they use our children to prove that.Dealing with my threatening child’ s father. he has threatened me several times that he will take me to court and has told people that he only wants my daughter to get started into a shelter that will give him leverage for a better future. this man has tried to say I’m crazy has spoken ill about me among my pears. He also had somebody when I was living near him go to my job siting’s speak ill to the point off terminating my job process. Before I had my daughter he told people in my presence that if it was his child that I should of had abortion and was telling people that it was no his and off course his stories of me running around like harlot. I was so wounded by these actions I had to leave the state I was in (while pregnant)and said my farewells to him in not so nice ways. (He is going to use this against me and I have no choice but to submit to the fact that the courts will give rights to these kind off people and that I should of known my place as a women. he has documents I don’t, the witness’s of these reciting’s are afraid of him and his action the only evident that there is my angry expression via email and facebook. he has violations of domestic and Im almost certain it started out just like this behavior he has shown me. Society says give them a chance, then they do and then they hurt the children. Also he has said hes filing in the courts a dna hearing and they will decide Tell me guys for how long are you going to expect women to bow down to these very violent men and just to top it all off allow children to be involved in the midst of it. Everyday I pray and cry for my child to be safe and for the judges in court to make the best judgement because after all my child and other children are also involved in this crises.i also ask god how come men don’t see these recurring patterns of abuse in there fellow man if there need to be a father advocacy group it needs to be for the prevetion of bringing harm to a child both mentally and physically. and your right mother of three I have breast feed my chil for a year by myself and have held her in my stomach for 9 months and has washed, and cloths, and feed and has kept warm my children without the presence of the father so how dare you take that away by choosing a side that has done none of those things.

    2. Chester Kosulinski

      Dear mom of 3…
      This discussion is not about you or the father it’s about what’s in the best interest of the child. Yes, there is a very physiological reason YOU don’t want the child’s father to have equal rights: it’s called EGO. You list the things you do e.g. carry the baby inside of you for nine months, breast feed etc. That’s the way God made you – what you’re made for. You’re not a victim but you’re sure trying to sell that point of view to everyone else. The child is half his and half yours.

  6. Everyone talks about rights for the father AFTER the baby is born. I would like to be involved NOW but she is fighting me as we are not together. I want to be at the doctor appointments, be at the birth cutting the cord, naming the baby, etc. I would like father’s rights that should be available as I already took the paternity test. What can I do?

    1. Unfortunately, if a mother does not want you around for pregnancy issues, a father does not have much of a right. This is primarily because judges do not want to force anything on a pregnant mother that may increase their stress level in an unhealthy way. Besides that, there is not yet a baby for you to file your Complaint for Parentage, and this is how you begin fighting for your father’s rights.

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