How Can a Father Get Full Custody of Their Child?
Working through a divorce can be a very stressful and even frightening experience. This can be especially true for fathers as they worry if they will get to be in their children’s lives after the divorce is finalized.
The good news is that, though historically mothers were far more likely to get sole custody of children after a divorce, changes in parenting trends are making shared custody agreements more popular.
And, several years ago the U.S. Census Bureau released custodial statistics that showed that 17.5 percent of custodial parents in the nation are fathers. That percentage will likely increase in the coming years.
If you are a father and wondering how you can get full custody of your children those numbers should be encouraging. Though it doesn’t always happen, full custody is possible. Here are several things to keep in mind as you seek full custody of your child or children.
What’s Best for The Child?
The most important factor any judge or mediator will consider when deciding custodial matters is what is best for the child. While for years the prevailing logic declared sole custody by the mother to be in the best interest of the child, that notion has been challenged over the last few years.
In fact, studies show that shared parenting can be the best for a child’s health and development. Because this is true, you need to be honest about why you as a father are seeking full custody. If it’s simply to spite your ex-wife or to settle some personal vendetta, the odds you will be granted full custody are very slim.
There needs to be a good reason why not only you should be the custodial parent, but why your former spouse would not be a good option.
What Fathers Need to Do To Get Full Custody
If, after considering what is best for the child, you still want to pursue full custody, there are several helpful things you can do that will bolster your case. These include:
- Be a model parent. You should show up to extra-curricular activities, be involved in your child’s life, and get to know the teachers, coaches, and other important people in your child’s life. Showing that you are an attentive father can go a long way in custody decisions.
- Pay child support. Make sure you are paying child support on time every month. This shows that you are a responsible person who can handle taking care of things.
- Keep detailed records. You should track your payments, involvement, even communications with your ex-wife. This will help show your interest in and care for your children. And if your ex-wife disputes any claim you make, you will have documentation to prove you were being honest.
- Prove that your ex-wife should not have custody. This is the hardest part and where many divorces can become adversarial. However, if you really believe your ex-wife is neglectful, has an all-consuming job, is a threat to the safety of your children, or is otherwise incapable of raising them, you need to prove it to the judge. Court records, work history, how she behaved during pregnancy and afterward should all be included.
There are of course other factors at play in deciding who will have custody of a child. Housing conditions, school situations, and if a child will have to move, or be removed from other significant relationships will all be weighed by a judge while deciding custodial matters.
Seek Qualified Legal Representation
One final thing any father needs to do when questions of custody are being decided is hire a competent divorce lawyer. Issues related to custody and all parts of a divorce are complex and require level-headed, compassionate legal representation in order to walk through it with your dignity intact.
A divorce can be one of the most challenging events in any person’s life. And it becomes even more complex when the custody of a child is at stake. As a father, or any parent, you cannot do it alone. If full custody is in the best interest of your child, a good divorce lawyer will help you put together a strong case to present to the judge and will advise every step of the way.