The spotlight is on fathers this month. Unfortunately, in the United States’ court system, fathers often must go above and beyond to prove that they deserve to have custody of their child. If you are a father filing for joint or full custody, you may need to prepare for a challenging child custody battle, particularly if your child’s mother is filing too.
Many dads are left confused, angry and uninformed after divorce or separation. Losing a lifelong partner can make for a complex experience as is. It is often presumed that the mother will get child custody when parents separate. Whether you are going to file full or joint custody, consider these factors.
In most cases, the parent whom does not win child custody is required to pay child support to the parent who is given custody. The father will often be denied if the couple was unmarried or his name is not listed on the birth certificate. As a result, paternity must be verified for the child’s name to be put on the child’s birth certificate. A father who wants to win custody of a child must acknowledge paternity of the child by signing the child’s birth certificate or acknowledging paternity during a paternity proceeding in court.
The court will then order the parent to make child support payments along with other requirements such as medical care. A father who wants custody should make child support payments on time and regularly. If a father is struggling with payments, they should request a modification. If he can continue making payments on time, he should maintain records, such as check receipts or written confirmation, from the child’s mother as to the child support arrangements.
Before a judge decides on custody, they will consider the parent’s relationship with the child. Understanding this and being prepared to answer questions regarding the relationship with the child will help with the judge’s decision. Another thing that a judge will ask about is past regular visitation. Keeping an accurate visitation schedule will provide proof that a father prioritizes time with their child and cares about maintaining a relationship.
If a child custody arrangement has already been made, a court will be reluctant to interrupt this. If the mother has a mental illness or is abusing drugs, the father should present this evidence to the judge to warrant a change in custody. Often, if you are seeking joint or full custody of your child, you will need to prove why you are more fit to parent than the child’s mother by providing evidence of a stable home environment and income, prioritizing court proceedings and showing up on time, and/or citing evidence why your child’s mother is unfit.
When you have a child with someone, you are not typically thinking about the possibilities of divorce and separation. As a father seeking custody, it is essential to prioritize your child’s best interests and work closely with an attorney to increase your chances of gaining joint or full custody.
The family law attorneys at Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey will stick by your side through the process, giving you guidance and trustworthy advice, while ultimately protecting your best interests. Schedule a comprehensive consultation by phone at 864-523-7738 or contact us online so our family law team can review your situation and decide on next steps.