If you have kids, then it’s likely that you’ll need to sort out a custody arrangement with your co-parent if your relationship ever ends. These discussions can be challenging for most parents to have. They may need to resort to mediation for help in coming up with an amenable arrangement. Litigation may be in order if these discussions fail.
The difference in parents coming up with a solution between themselves and litigation is that in the latter, the judge decides who to award custody to. If you’re a dad, then you may worry that there’s little chance of ever securing custody of your kids. That’s not true, though.
How child custody has changed over the years
There’s been a significant shift over the years in terms of how judges award custody. Courts used to award moms primary custody with dads only receiving visitation rights. Later child psychologists convinced judges that it was more impactful when both parents played an active role in raising their kids. Many judges now see awarding both parents equal time with their child to generally be in their best interest.
While an overwhelming majority of courts share the above-referenced philosophy, judges are individuals and sometimes don’t view father’s rights similarly.
What can enhance a dad’s chances of winning custody?
Any parent wishing to receive custody of their child must demonstrate that it’s in their best interest. Dads are in a different position from moms, though. Only a mom’s parentage is assumed when a child is born to unmarried parents. As a father, you will need to first establish your paternity before petitioning for custody if you weren’t married to your child’s mother at the time of their birth. This can be done through DNA testing or signing the birth certificate.
A judge will want to see evidence that you’ve maintained a solid, ongoing parental relationship with your child preceding your request for custody. They’ll want to know that you’ve consistently exercised your visitation rights as well.
Judges are unlikely to remove all custody rights from the mother unless there’s evidence showing that the child is being subjected to mental or physical abuse or that the mother has substance abuse or behavioral health concerns. You shouldn’t let that deter you from petitioning the court to take on a more prominent role in your child’s life.