Divorcing and unwed fathers face significant challenges in the family court system, many of which are the unfortunate vestiges of outdated gender roles. For many years, mothers have been awarded primary custody in the vast majority of custody disputes throughout the country due to the belief that mothers are better caregivers while fathers are better suited to being breadwinners for their children. The reality is that fathers are just as capable and necessary as mothers, and a father has the same right to seek custody and parenting time as a mother. Additionally, while most mothers are admirable parents who do their best for their children, mothers are not all automatically fit parents; some violate their custody orders and some outright refuse custody.
Though rare, biological mothers can and do voluntarily relinquish their custody rights, and it is also possible for a mother to violate their custody order in such a way that the most likely response from the court will be involuntary termination of their parental rights. It is crucial for both mothers and fathers entering the family court systems for custody disputes to remember that outdated stereotypes about parental roles and parental fitness have no place in modern family courts, and most judges no longer hold to these outdated beliefs. However, it is unfortunate that many fathers in the family court system feel inherently disadvantaged by gender bias.
An experienced fathers’ rights attorney is a valuable asset for any father involved in a custody dispute, especially one fighting for full custody of their children. If you are compelled to seek full custody of your children because your child’s mother has either refused to follow your parenting plan or has done something to nullify her fitness as a parent, you need an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the difficult proceedings ahead of you.
Family Court Procedures for Assigning Custody Rights
Any parent is likely to experience high levels of emotional stress in preparing for a custody case, but the right attorney can help you feel more confident about your chances of securing the custody rights you hope to obtain. Your custody dispute will unfold under the supervision of a family court judge, and the judge must evaluate all relevant facts and evidence in determining what type of custody arrangement would best suit the child’s interests.
Once a family court order is approved, both parents are required to abide by its terms to the letter. In the event that a parent repeatedly fails to uphold their responsibilities, or in the event of an acute and severe violation of a family court order, the other party can file contempt proceedings. You also have the right to petition the court for a modification of your custody order if recent events have impacted the terms of the order. Your father’s rights attorney will help you file your petition and prepare you for the hearing to follow.
If a child’s biological mother does not want contact with her child, or if she has broken the law to a significant extent or otherwise proven herself to be unfit for custody, the child’s father may not face much challenge in securing full custody as long as he can prove full capability of handling the responsibilities full custody entails. Regardless of how confident you are about your chances of becoming your child’s custodial parent and whether you’re bracing for a new custody dispute or revisiting an established order, an experienced father’s rights attorney can provide ongoing support through all the difficult proceedings you face, helping you make a more compelling case for custody and addressing your legal concerns as they arise.
Q: Can a Father Seek Full Custody in Family Court?
A: All custody decisions rest in the hands of the family court judges assigned to oversee them, and every family court judge in the United States has a legal duty to protect the children affected by their rulings. The judge handling a custody dispute must carefully evaluate the overall fitness of each parent, and most judges in the United States tend to prefer joint custody arrangements that allow a child to spend an equivalent amount of time with both parents. If you believe you have the right to seek full custody and know this would suit your child’s needs and interests better than a joint custody resolution, you need an experienced attorney to help you make your case.
Q: How Can a Parent Lose Their Custody Rights?
A: A parent could be deemed unfit by the family court in response to domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, or a serious crime. Advanced substance abuse disorders, mental health conditions, and other variables can influence custody decisions. If a parent loses custody rights through involuntary termination in response to their misconduct, it is very unlikely they will ever regain those lost rights. Whatever issue caused them to lose custody could also lead to criminal prosecution.
Q: What Happens If a Parent Violates a Custody Order?
A: If you and your co-parent split custody, but your co-parent repeatedly violates custody exchange schedules, fails to make necessary court-ordered support payments, or intentionally violates their custody agreement in any way, you have the right to seek enforcement of your custody order. Both mothers and fathers can face severe penalties for custody violations, including contempt of court, fines, jail time, and loss of custody rights.
Q: Should I Hire an Attorney for a Custody Case?
A: It is crucial for any parent heading for a custody battle to have legal representation they can trust. The right attorney is an invaluable asset if you intend to seek full custody, ensure your co-parent’s misconduct and/or unfitness is fully evaluated by the court, and manage any related variables to guide you to a positive conclusion to your case.
A father’s rights attorney can make an incredible difference in the outcome of your impending custody dispute. While the situation may seem daunting, and pervasive outdated stereotypes cause many fathers to underestimate their chances of securing the custody terms they prefer, connecting with a father’s rights attorney you can trust will have a tremendous positive impact on the outcome of your upcoming custody case.