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If you are a father who is going through a divorce and custody battle, you might be worried that because you are not the mom, your rights will not be seen as important. While it is true that in the past, mothers were awarded custody more often than fathers, that is not the case in most circumstances now. Instead of awarding custody based on gender roles, judges are more likely to consider the best interest of the child. Read on to find out why fathers are getting more rights in family law cases as well as for tips on how you can maximize your chances of getting custody of your child.


History of Child Custody

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, children were generally considered to belong to their fathers. This means that in the case of divorce, which was more rare then than it is now, children usually lived with their fathers, not their mothers. Once most men went off to work during the Industrial Revolution, however, the pendulum swung the other way, and most children went with their mothers after a divorce.

As divorce rates rose and fell through the later part of the 20th century, this pattern continued: Most divorces ended with the children going to live with the mother and visiting the father only on weekends and maybe for a week during the summer. Fathers occasionally got joint custody of their children. It was rare for a father to receive full custody of his child.

With the turn of the 21st century, however, things changed once again. Rather than the children automatically being given to their mother, judges began to see that families did best when the children could have deep relationships with both parents. More and more fathers were receiving joint custody and, when the situation warranted, fathers began receiving full custody. Of course, sometimes mothers receive full custody, too. In general, fathers’ and mothers’ rights are becoming more equal now, with some exceptions in some areas.


In the Best Interest of the Child

Today, child custody cases are decided with the best interest of the child as the overwhelming factor. This means that a judge will look at all of the evidence and make a determination whether the child will be better off with one parent or with both parents. Most of the time, the case is that the child will do well with both parents. This usually leads to joint legal and physical custody. Joint legal custody means that both parents will have equal say over whether the child is brought up in a certain religion, what school the child will attend, and which doctors the child will see for routine visits. Joint physical custody means that the child will live with both parents on some type of schedule that will be determined.

In some cases, however, it will be decided that one parent is not fit to have custody of the child. This could apply to legal or physical custody; in many cases, it will apply to both. In these cases, the child will live with one parent. That parent will have sole custody, sometimes called full custody. The noncustodial parent will generally be responsible for child support. He or she might also have visitation, which means that they will get to visit with their child on some schedule. The visits might be unsupervised or supervised. It depends on the specific situation.


Factors Leading to Full Custody for Fathers

There are some factors that might call for a father to receive full custody of his child. Usually, this is only awarded when the mother is not able to care for the child for some reason. These reasons might include one or more of the following:

  • Abandonment. If the mother has abandoned her child and does not want to pursue custody, then it will generally be awarded to the father.
  • Drug abuse or addiction. If the mother is addicted to alcohol or using illegal drugs, she might lose custody of the child. In this case, as long as the father is fit, he will usually be awarded full custody.
  • Child abuse or domestic abuse. If the mother is abusive or neglectful toward the child, the father might get full custody. The mother might or might not be able to have supervised or unsupervised visitation. In the case of domestic abuse, the judge still might award full custody to the father.
  • Severe, untreated mental illness. If the mother has a severe mental illness that is untreated, she might be unable to care for her child. In that case, the father might be awarded full custody.


Getting Custody of Your Child

If you are a father who is going through a divorce or child custody case, you might be concerned about whether you will have the right to have a relationship with your child. The good news is that in most cases, you will get at least joint custody. If you don’t get joint custody, you will probably get visitation.

If you have one of the issues listed above under reasons why a mother might lose custody of her children, be aware that you might get supervised visitation privileges only. That does not have to be permanent. For example, if you have mental illness and you go for treatment or if you are in a recovery program for a drug or alcohol addiction, you might be able to get more visitation or even joint custody of your child.

A legal resource group like Family Law Legal Group can help you claim your rights and get custody of your child. We can also help if you want to get visitation or if you need to pursue full custody in order to keep your child safe. A private attorney can help, but their services are usually very expensive. At Family Law Legal Group, we keep prices low to help as many fathers as possible have a good relationship with their children. Contact us today to learn more about our services and to find out if we can help you.

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