Many clients tell us “I am a single father, I want to get full custody of my kids, but it just seems so hopeless.”
And they ask “Do fathers have the same parental rights as my child’s mother?” “Can fathers get full custody or are traditionally not allowed?”
The courts do generally aim for parents to share child custody; however, there are situations where the courts would consider granting full custody to one parent. The court is not allowed to show a bias against a father. If you are experiencing custody issues as a father it is very important to seek legal consultation immediately because of the preconceived notion that the Mother always gets full custody, some father’s do not even fight for or know the right they have. And because the courts are not allowed to show bias it is vital that the Mother contact an Attorney immediately upon any custody issue.
A parent who wants to win full custody rights should know what to expect prior to a court proceeding. A court will consider the following factors in determining which parent should win full custody rights:
First we look at Paternity: A father who is attempting to obtain full custody of a child should have acknowledged paternity of the child. A father may acknowledge paternity by signing the child’s birth certificate or by acknowledging paternity during a paternity proceeding in court. If the mother of a child is married to someone else other than the baby’s father at birth, the presumption of paternity remains with the mother’s husband even if there has been no contact with the Husband and Wife for years prior to the birth of the child. If the Mother of a child is still married to someone else other than the father, paternity is still presumed for the Husband. In this situation it is also important to consult with an Attorney prior to the birth.
Secondly we look at Father’s relationship with the child: A judge will inquire into the parent’s relationship with the child, prior to granting full custody rights. A parent should be prepared to respond to various questions regarding their relationship with the child during a child custody proceeding. A judge will also ask about past regular visitation. If the father does not currently have a relationship with the child and see them regularly, being granted full custody becomes a much harder battle.
Lastly we look at Child’s relationship with his/her mother: A court will be reluctant to interrupt a child custody arrangement that seems to be working, especially if the child’s mother is already the primary caretaker of the child. A court would consider altering a custody arrangement if the child is in danger. For example, if the child’s mother is battling a mental illness or if the child’s mother is abusing drugs. A father who is seeking full custody of a child should be prepared to present evidence that a change in circumstances warrants a complete change in custody.
Even if the father is granted full custody, the courts will most likely still allow visitation with the Mother except for the most extreme circumstances. All in all whether a father or a mother is attempting to get full or joint custody, it is best to consult with an Attorney before you file anything with the court. Most Judge’s and experts agree if both parents are capable of raising the children, then it is best for the child to have both parents involved in raising the child.