Fathers’ Custody Rights

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What Are Fathers’ Custody Rights?

Father’s Day is usually a joyful holiday to be celebrated with loved ones; however, it can be emotionally difficult for fathers fighting for custody of their children. Throughout the years, the term “mother” has become synonymous with primary caretaker, but this is not always the case.

Starting in the 19th century, the tender years doctrine became common place in family law. The doctrine declares that during a child’s tender years (typically around age four or younger) the mother is “preferred custodian.”1

Today, the tender years doctrine has been gradually replaced in favor of gender-neutral rulings. In fact, a majority of the courts in the United States have declared that this doctrine violates the 14th Amendment. Because of this, these courts now place emphasis on the “best interest” of the child or children involved.1 Yet even with this modern point of view, there is still a stereotype surrounding single-parent fathers.

There are, unfortunately, many people in today’s society who believe that single fathers are not suitable caretakers for their own children because they lack the nurturing skills required to raise a young child. In actuality, research indicates that “preschoolers with actively involved fathers have stronger verbal skills.”2 Young children are impressionable and often respond positively to a healthy relationship with his or her father.

As of 2011, according to the Pew Research Center, there were over 2.6 million single fathers in the United States. This figure is up about nine-fold than where it was in 1960.3 Single father households are slowly becoming more common. Fathers can expand beyond their historically-designated role as the breadwinner and effectively parent as a primary caregiver.

To determine custody, a judge will look at several different aspects of the father’s life and the relationship with his child(ren) before ruling.  Overall, the father needs to show that his child(ren) are a priority in his life. By providing evidence of a loving relationship and stable household, the father will have a greater chance of being granted custody. The court will ultimately determine custody based on the best interests of the child.

If you are a father seeking joint or full custody of a child, having an attorney who cares about you and your situation can ease the process. At Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC, we understand what you’re going through and are here to help guide you through this difficult time. For further guidance and support, contact us online or by calling 864-523-7738. Together, we can figure out the next steps in your fight for custody.



  1. https://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2206&context=californialawreview
  2. https://www.fatherhood.gov/content/dad-stats
  3. https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/07/02/the-rise-of-single-fathers/

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