Separation and divorce are never easy. These processes get even more complicated when there’s a child involved. You hire a child support lawyer, child custody lawyer, or even a divorce process server to ensure everything will turn in your favor.
When it comes to child custody, there’s always a presumption a child should stay with the mother after the divorce. Although many states are no longer honoring this presumption and encouraging ongoing relationships with both parents, some are still favoring mothers when it comes to getting full custody of their children.
Even though courts have no discrimination against single fathers, there are plenty of reasons only a low percentage of fathers become full custodial parents. In fact, there’s only 17.5% of them, according to the U.S. census.
While the process of getting full custody can be challenging, it isn’t impossible to receive full custody as the father. Whether you’re a father going for joint or full custody, it’s important to prepare for child custody negotiations ahead of time. With that in mind, here are ways how a father can get full custody of his child.
Be honest and set realistic expectations
When undergoing a custody case, you have to be honest about what you can handle by yourself financially and practically. Although getting full custody is what you want, you still need to be realistic. The courts will ensure you understand clearly the kind of life you’re petitioning on. Consider all the responsibilities you handle daily and how you can manage them as a single parent.
Start by knowing your strengths and weaknesses as a parent. At the same time, you have to be clear about this information when relaying it to the court and your lawyer. This increases the chances of getting your request to be taken seriously.
Consider the factors related to full custody rights
A parent who wishes to get full custody rights should learn what to expect before a court proceeding. The judges will consider the factors in knowing which parents will win the full custody rights.
The first and most important factor is paternity. The father who wants to get full child custody should acknowledge the child’s paternity. You can do this by signing the child’s birth certificate or accepting paternity during a court paternity proceeding.
The judge will also examine the father’s relationship with the child even before filing the custody case. The father should be fully prepared to answer questions concerning his relationship with his child during the custody proceeding.
In cases when the mother is already the child’s primary caretaker, the court may be hesitant to interrupt the existing custody arrangement that is already working. Otherwise, the judge will consider changing the custody arrangement if they sense the child is in a dangerous situation. For instance, the mother has a mental illness or is taking illegal drugs. If that is the case, the father should be ready to provide complete evidence to call for a modification for custody agreement.
Create a plan
The courts will expect that the father is fully prepared enough for custody once they award it. Do this by compiling a set of intelligent responses when the judge asks you about parenting-related questions.
These questions involve living accommodations, financial preparedness, a child’s education, safety, stability, health, and privacy, among others. You can check online to get an idea about the questions given during a custody proceeding. But be sure to answer these questions honestly and thoroughly.
Know your child’s wishes
Things will likely turn in your favor if you have an existing relationship with your child. The court will consider the child’s wish if they are old enough to make a decision and a sound judgment. In this case, the father can acquire full custody if the child wishes to live with the father because of the strong relationship with him.
You should also be wary about parental alienation, where the parent purposely changes the child’s impression of the other parent by speaking negatively or asking the child to spy on the other parent during visitations. This approach can decisively and slowly destroy the child’s relationship with both parents. Either the mother or father can engage in parental alienation. If you want to get full custody of the child, you should be confident enough that you have long-established a good relationship with them.
Don’t let gender stereotypes or society’s standards prevent you from pushing rights to full custody. Let an experienced lawyer evaluate your situation. Custody can be granted to anyone, whether you’re the father or the mother. Once you win the full custody rights, you should also be aware of the mother’s visitation rights and protect the child’s best interests.