Last Modified: August 18, 2022

Father's Rights

When parents separate, divorce, or do not live together, they must arrange for custody of their children. This means that decision making rights, the allocation of parental responsibilities, and parenting time need to be specified in a written document. This process is not usually pleasant and can be particularly frustrating for the father. Many dads find themselves on the losing end of custody arrangements, receiving less time with their children than they wished and having limited control regarding important childrearing decisions. It is entirely possible to get father’s rights to equal custody when a dad breaks up with the mother of his children. Expert father’s rights lawyers can prevent this from happening and can get you started with a free consultation.

Obtaining Father’s Rights to Equal Custody

On the surface, mothers and fathers child support rights are equal. When making custody decisions, courts are primarily concerned with the physical and mental wellbeing of the children. Child custody laws vary by state but all attempt to ensure a fair outcome. But fair does not necessarily mean equal. Nearly one-quarter of child custody arrangements involve the children living primarily with the mother, while just three percent involve children residing primarily with the father. In order for a father’s rights to equal custody to be a possibility, a dad must focus on his children much more than a mother does and understand the legal terminology involved and how to prepare his case for court.

Physical Custody versus Decision Making

When a custody decision needs to be made, the first thing that must be established are the two main parts of a custody decision: physical custody (parenting time / visitation) and legal custody (decision making or the allocation of parental responsibilities). These two can be exactly the same, equal, or wildly different, with one parent having primary physical possession (majority of parenting time) but the parties having equal rights to decision making for the children. Knowing the difference between these is essential for a father’s rights to be upheld and enforced.

Physical Custody of the Child

Physical custody, especially in a father’s rights case, means the amount of parenting time each parent gets as a result of an agreement or a judge’s order. If a father is fighting for primary physical custody of the children, he faces an uphill battle and representation from a father’s rights attorney is recommended to build a comprehensive case. Many fathers will settle for some form of joint physical custody that likely doesn’t mean the parties have equal (50/50) amounts of parenting time.

Decision Making for the Child

Besides physical custody, dad’s need to understand the role that decision making has on child-rearing. This is also known as legal custody or the allocation of parental responsibilities. Whatever it is called (depending on the state), it means essentially the same thing: which parent (or both) gets to make decisions on behalf of their children that include medical care, extracurricular activities, education, and religion.

Pro-Father’s Rights Changes to the Law

Father’s need to have their game face on at all times when a custody fight ensues. And this means being overly prepared. Biases from the past still plague the judicial system, and mothers are de facto viewed as the parent that should be the primary caregiver for the parents children. The law says otherwise, but judges are human beings and might look at a mother and father differently in court. Attorneys fought for years with state legislatures to change the laws to ensure that a father’s rights to equal custody is on the books – and it now is in all 50-states.

Traditionally, courts favored mothers when granting custody. However, the law dictates that a mother should not automatically be presumed to be the custodian of her children. Both a mother’s and father’s rights to custody are equal. Courts are increasingly reflecting this in their decisions by awarding joint custody to dads that are fighting for their custody rights.

Involvement is Key for a Father’s Rights Win

Many factors go into deciding the custody rights of each parent. One of the biggest is prior and current involvement in the child’s life. For a father’s rights to equal custody case to even stand a chance, a dad must prove that he is involved in every aspect of the child’s life. This means a dad needs to get moving, immediately, and do the following:

  • Sign up to be a coach for your kids team
  • Be present at PTA conferences at the child’s school
  • Go to and schedule routine doctors appointments for your children
  • Make sure the people in charge at school/activities know who you are
  • Schedule fun activities with the kids (nothing outrageous, but a trip to the zoo or a minor league ball game maybe)
  • Be available every time the mother needs a babysitter

Even if there isn’t a long history of this type of involvement, the court will view it as a change for the positive and will be pleased to see the actions being taken by a father who wants primary or equal custody rights.

Next Steps for Father’s Rights

Get started, immediately. For a father’s rights to equal custody case to prevail, a dad must pitch a perfect game. Many factors are considered when making custody decisions and involvement is one of the main items a dad can control. Fathers have an obligation to know their rights and how to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome in court. Take inventory of your life, make a plan, and begin executing that plan today. And never forget, an experienced father’s rights lawyer will always be helpful (and father’s rights lawyers provide free consultations too).

About The Author

5 thoughts on “Getting Father’s Rights to Equal Custody”

  1. I’ve been divorced for over a year. At the time of the divorce I had no idea of the process and had no money to hire an attorney, but she did. She filed in a different state and got all my possessions and the children. I had started a new job and was unable to hire an attorney to fight back.
    Two years passed before she allowed me to see my children. When I did see them they had stories of drug use by their mother, stories of abandonment and abuse in the school system. I confronted her about these things and she had told me it would never happen again. I still didn’t have the best job and no way to fight so I trusted her. I kept the lines of communication open and tried to help her regardless of how she’s treated me in the past.
    I sent my two boys Christmas this year, 2014. They only received a portion of it. I had to send the gifts to her father’s home because she refuses to give me her address. She refuses to give me names of those that take care of them while she is out. She also refuses to let me know when they are hurt, hospitalized or if they have issues in school. My oldest son tells me about these things when she allows me to talk to them on her phone with only her present. When the conversation turns to a subject she’d prefer me not to know of, she kills the call or mutes the phone.
    I have never looked for legal help. I haven’t really had the money to fight her. She has unlimited resources to help her as a single mother. It seems me as a father only gets what she allows.
    I work hard and I’m currently catching up on my support. I lost my job and after I reported the fact, the support was raised. I don’t understand why the system is the way it is. I was a loyal husband and I am still an excellent father. Meanwhile she is a drug addict, in a gang infested community, where the children are not safe. She takes all contact with the children from me depending on her mood or if she thinks she can get money.
    I don’t know what to do and I’m looking for help.
    Thank you,
    Bradford Hartman
    Production Director
    KNAB Radio
    Burlington, CO

  2. Currently about to go to court to fight my kids father. We became divorce over 4 years ago aggreed to equal custody living n both homes. That became disaster so I had the 2 younger kids move soley in my house but I never stopped the kids visitation with there dad. He has them every weekend, Hoiday, school vactions and birthdays pretty much as musch as he wants them. I have recently gotten engaged to me married and my kidss have a great relationship with my fiance. They go to school regularly, have great grades and I keep them very active in sports and church activities. I feel because of my recent engagement he plys on the kids making them feel guilty saying your mother has had you since divorce its time you come live with me. Well the kids love there dad and don’t want him to be upset so them say ok dad. i really hate to have my kids in a battle at age 13 and 16 but Just can’t let them live with him. I think I have been very fair on visitations and have done a great job this far by myself with no child support.. I don’t want to keep him out there life I just dont want them living inhis household. He workss late hours, alseep most of the day and since divorce the 2 kids i left was my older son wwhich is now in correctional facility adn my step daughter was kicked ooout at 17 she is now 20. My question is would I have a good case I so lost and not knowing waht to do.

    1. familylawrights

      Fight for custody of your kids. You may need to speak with an expert, and an attorney can tell you your rights. But, it looks like it will not be an easy battle.

  3. What happens when a employer garnish wages for child support,submits NSF checks, partials and non-payments ,especilally when child support ignores it , does not inform me or employer? ?

    1. In most states, if an employer does not follow the proper withholding, they can be held liable for fines and penalties. In some states, it can be as high as $100/day that they fail to comply withe the order for withholding. Speak with an expert who will help you file the proper papers and you stand a great chance at making a lot of money!

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