Child Custody Lawyer
If you’re a father laboring under the misconception that family law courts always favor the mother in a child custody situation, think again. All things being equal, you have just as much right to custody as does the child’s mother.
The operative phrase here, of course, is “all things being equal.” A court decides custody on the basis of the best interests of the child. Since it can be a complex process, it’s recommended to consult the services of a child custody lawyer.
Considerations to Keep in Mind
Since there are many considerations when it comes to a father gaining custody of their child, here are some factors to keep in mind:
- Which, if either, parent lives in the family home?
- Which parent has the best physical setup/welcoming environment to house the child?
- Which, if either, parent lives in the child’s current school district?
- Which parent has the better financial means to take care of the child?
- Which parent has demonstrated a past willingness to handle most of the child rearing responsibilities?
- Which parent appears to have the closest relationship with the child?
- Which, if either, parent has a drug, alcohol, gambling or other addictions that can be an issue?
- Which, if either, parent has a documented history of domestic violence?
- Which, if either, parent has one or more criminal convictions?
- Which parent does the child prefer to live with, assuming he or she is old enough to allow the court to consider his or her wishes?
The answers to these and other questions go a long way in determining custody and a court will be more willing to award custody to a parent that can demonstrate good qualities.
Before a court can consider the above “best interests” factors, however, they must know for sure that you’re the child’s legal parent. If you and the child’s mother were married at the time of the child’s birth, you’re the presumed father. If, however, you were not married to each other at that time, you will need to establish paternity.
Virtually all states make this easy to do so if you and the child’s mother accept the fact of your paternity. The two of you can sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, have it properly notarized and file it with the appropriate state agency. You can obtain this free form from the hospital where your child was born or from the agency that handles these forms in your state.
If your child’s mother disputes your paternity, however, you will likely need to go to court and obtain a judge’s declaration of your paternity. Be prepared to undergo a paternity test. The easiest process is a simple, noninvasive test from which your DNA is compared to that of your child. If the results come back positive, this establishes your paternity and the mother will no longer be able to dispute this fact.
Obtaining Legal Help
Your best strategy when seeking custody of your child, whether or not his or her mother agrees on your paternity, is to obtain the advice, counsel and representation of an experienced local child custody lawyer. He or she can guide you through whatever steps are necessary to assert your custodial rights.