Can Single Fathers Get Full Custody?
Often single fathers seeking full custody of their kids feel they are automatically at a disadvantage. While this may have been true in the past, evolving family law trends have changed and Family Law courts are slowly catching up. In the meantime, a single father who wants full custody should understand the differences between full custody and joint custody. Full custody, or sole custody, means that the child will live exclusively with one parent who will handle all legal decisions. Due to the seriousness of the implications of full custody, a single father needs to be prepared for a challenging child custody battle should the mother also file for full custody. Accordingly, many fathers are represented by a father’s rights attorney in contested custody cases.
No Bias Against Fathers Allowed
The good news is that family courts are not permitted to show any bias against fathers. If a child custody lawyer can show that the father is the better parent, the father has a chance of getting full custody.
Factors Considered When Granting Full Custody Rights
Although California family courts generally consider it preferable for parents to share child custody, there are situations where the court may consider granting full custody to one parent, including a single father. Family courts in California consider the following factors in determining which parent should win full custody rights: (1) Paternity and (2) each parent’s relationship with the child.
Paternity and Relationship
A father who is interested in obtaining full custody of a child needs to acknowledge paternity of the child by signing the child’s birth certificate or by acknowledging paternity at a paternity proceeding in court. Prior to awarding full custody rights, a judge will also inquire into the parent’s relationship and about past regular visitation with the child. A single father should be prepared to respond to questions regarding his relationship with the child during a child custody proceeding.
A family law judge will make these inquiries because courts are reluctant to interrupt a child custody arrangement that seems to be working. This is particularly true if the child’s mother is the primary caretaker of the child. Family courts will usually consider altering a custody arrangement if the child is in danger, the child’s mother has a mental illness, or the mother is abusing drugs. A single father who wants full custody of a child will need to present evidence that a change in circumstances warrants a complete change in custody.
Joint Custody Preferred
A father who wants to win full custody rights of a child should be aware that courts will usually offer generous visitation rights to the child’s mother, as a relationship with both parents is considered to be in the child’s best interests. Also, in most child custody cases, California family law courts prefer to award parents joint custody of a child where parents share physical and/or legal custody of a child.
For more information about winning full custody rights, speak with divorce attorney Michael Benavides for additional information and legal advice. To schedule a free consultation call our office at (916) 250-1610 Monday – Saturday from 8 AM to 6 PM.