Society at large tends to see women as more caring than men. This stereotype is a huge disadvantage to men in failed marriages who find themselves in a custody battle, fighting for the right to be parents to their children. In the United States, statistically speaking, it is far more likely for women to win a custody battle than men. So if you’re a father and you find yourself in a custody battle, it is best for you to prepare yourself properly for a difficult legal engagement. You will have to take all the right steps and make sure you present yourself and your case in a way that maximizes your chances of winning.
“Best Interests of the Child” and Custody
Despite any gender biases, when courts are deciding how to proceed with a custody trial, what they are really basing their decision off is the best interest of the child or children in question. The best interest standard includes a variety of standards that judges must consider to see which parent will be most conducive to the child or children’s health, wellbeing and growth. These factors vary slightly from state to state, but luckily, there is no overt language in any state or federal law which could imply that gender of the parent is a factor when considering the best interests of the child.
Full Custody and Joint Custody
In a joint custody arrangement, parents share physical or legal custody of the child. In a full custody arrangement, one parent has sole responsibility for the child. In most cases, courts prefer to award joint custody since in most cases, it is usually in line with safeguarding the children’s best interests.
Fathers who want to win full custody of their child will have to demonstrate that they are a better parent than the child’s mother. This involves a number of factors that you can use to demonstrate that you are a better parent and can ultimately provide a better life for the child.
Judges will be most focused on which parent can best look after the “physical wellbeing of the child.” This includes factors such as which parent is more focused on the child’s routine, sleeping habits, eating habits and after school activities. Moreover, judges will favor parents who encourage a healthy lifestyle.
The judges will also focus on the “psychological wellbeing of the child.” Overbearing parents or parents with whom the child is unhappy will be at a disadvantage. Parents who openly support the child’s relationship with the other parent, and support the other parent’s visitation rights, will be at an advantage with the judges here.
Factors considered in child custody for fathers
Despite the fact that there is no legal basis for mothers having an advantage in a custody hearing, there is still a social bias in the mothers favor. Because of this, there are a number of factors to consider when fighting for custody of your child as a father, along with other basic legal work that will need to be done.
• Adequate documentation - A father who wants to get child custody will have to prepare all appropriate documents regarding visitation schedules and child support payments prior to the courtroom hearing.
• Courtroom Etiquette - A father who wants to get custody of his child will have to display a calm and pleasant demeanor. Outbursts and displays of anger or aggression can severely negatively impact their chances of success. Angry outbursts are associated with a violent disposition and a toxic home environment, which will make judges less likely to rule in your favor.
• Courtroom Dress - How you dress will have an impact on how you are viewed by the court. An overly casual dress will have you give an impression of lack of discipline and immaturity. It’s best to wear dark suits and dress shoes in court, as they tend to reflect organization and discipline.
• The best interests of the child - This is the most important factor in a child custody hearing, and all the previous points are, in fact, a part of the larger picture which is the best interests of the child and which parent is most well equipped to safeguard those interests. Fathers will have to be prepared to explain to the court room why giving the child’s mother partial or full custody will not be in the child’s best interest and giving him custody will be in the child’s best interests.
Obstacles to Fathers Getting Child Custody
Certain factors can become obstacles to a father getting child custody. You can minimize the harm done by these factors by being adequately prepared for them.
• Paternity Determination - This is a factor in cases where the child’s parents are not married. The court will not give custody to a father if the child’s paternity is in doubt. This can even be used as a weapon by the mother’s attorneys.
• The Other Parents Wishes - If both parents request custody of the child, the court will generally not be in favor of offering any one parent full custody of the child and is more likely to rule in favor of joint custody. In these cases, if the father wants exclusive custody of the child, he will have to prepare a case against the mother which allows him to show that the mother is not a positive influence in the child’s life. The father can prepare for this by compiling information about the mother which implicates her in behavior and can negatively affect the child such as substance abuse, violent behavior, financial irresponsibility or inability to financially support the child.
• The Childs Wishes - Depending on the age of the child and the laws of the state you are in, a court may decide to ask about which parent the child would prefer to have custody. If the court decides to respect the child wishes, you will have to be pre prepared for this by having a healthy relationship with your child, one in which you are actually his or her preferred parent.
In all child custody battles, it is advised to get help from an experienced and qualified lawyer who is experienced in family law. A family lawyer can help you win the child custody battle .