For many years, it was not a surprise during a custody battle when the mother succeeded in gaining legal and physical custody of the children, but this is changing. Today, a father who wants to remain part of his children’s lives through full or shared custody is winning these rights in cases throughout the country.
Here are the most common factors a court will look at to determine how the custody arrangement will be settled in the best interest of the child:
- How many children there are, and how old they are;
- The parents’ employment statuses and what the work demands are on each parent;
- How much time the parents each spent with the children prior to the divorce;
- How close the parents live to each other after the divorce;
- The physical and emotional fitness of the parents;
- How the custody arrangement will impact the children’s education;
- What type of home environment will be offered;
- What are the specific needs of each child;
- If the child is old enough, what is the preference of the child;
- The relationship of the child with each parent and any siblings who might reside in the home;
- How well the parents communicate with each other about the issues that relate to the child;
- Whether there is any history of a parent interfering with the visitation of the other w
- Without any legitimate reason, such as substantiated allegations of abuse;
- Whether the safety of the child has ever been jeopardized by abuse from anyone living in the home; and
- Whether there is a history of domestic abuse.
These are the factors that a court will consider, but there are things that a father can do to increase his odds of obtaining custody. It is true that the perception that the mother will be the best parent is changing, but there still are biases out there. If you have always been a father who was involved in the daily activities of your children, then you are in good shape. There are ways to help improve your odds of remaining a large part of your child’s life.
- be very clear from the beginning
- request an in-home custody evaluation
- prepare documentation
- exercise your rights
- show a willingness to work with your ex
- arrive late for visits or pick-ups
- abuse alcohol or drugs
- refuse anything the court asks of you
- discuss child care as part of custody discussions
- give up
Assert your desire to have shared or full custody or significant visitation from the very beginning. Do not presume that you will get your chance to voice your wish for regular contact later in the process. Be clear about what you want from the very beginning. You should take steps to show the court that you know how much care your child will require and are prepared to meet those needs.
This can be extremely helpful, especially if you're concerned that your ex will try to present a negative impression of your home life. If you have a healthy, loving relationship with your kids, an in-home evaluation can only help your case.
In situations where you honestly believe your children would be unsafe with the other parent—for example, because he or she has a history of physical abuse—you should carefully document your interactions with your ex, as well as his or her interactions with your children. Be aware, though, that the other parent may feel the same way about you and may be preparing similar documentation for the courts.
Also document situations where your ex will not allow you to see your children. A mother should encourage a strong relationship between the child and his or her father.
Refusing to do so will not be favored by a judge. Be certain to also include witnesses as part of your documentation.
If you've been granted visitation rights with your kids, take advantage of it. Spend as much time with them as you can, and make sure that you're doing regular, everyday things—including homework and chores.
Some parents have actually lost child custody because they simply will not collaborate with the other parent. It is critical to remember that while you may not like your ex, he or she is a part of your kids' lives, and you need to show the court that you're willing to work together.
Don’t create a negative impression of your commitment to your child. Be responsible and prompt for every pick up. Make sure you're there when you say you will be, so that your ex can't present a documented pattern to the court that reflects negatively on you. Also, don’t make a habit of rescheduling time with your kids. If you don’t appear to want to spend time with your children, a court will not grant you custody.
This is yet something else that could be documented and used against you. Make sure there's not even the suggestion that you're doing something that would put your kids at risk.
This is your time to show the court how committed you are. Don’t blow it. If you are required to take parenting classes or seek counseling, do it immediately. This is way to show the court how far you’re willing to go for your kids.
This only confuses the issue and may convince the court that you are more concerned with reducing payments than spending time with your child. Also be sure not to involve your children in the divorce happenings unless the court requires it.
If you are denied full-custody rights, it is important that you continue pursuing your rights. If you are granted joint-custody rights, such a situation is a great stepping stone for pursuing full-custody in the future. As lifestyle conditions for both you and your former spouse change, it is possible that your case for custody grows stronger and warrants an appeal.
It is not always easy for a father to obtain full-custody rights of his children. Luckily, there are certain actions that help men obtain custody rights. By obtaining support and making a valid argument as to why it is in the children's best interest, it is possible for a father to obtain child custody.