Last Modified: August 18, 2022
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).