Wondering how can a father get full custody of his child?
In this article, we are going over things like:
- the grounds for full custody
- how to win custody battles for fathers
- what to do when the mother won’t let you see the child
- how to improve your chances of getting custody
So, keep reading.
Table of Contents
- How Can A Father Get Full Custody of His Child?
- A List Of The Grounds For Full Custody of Children
- How To Get Full Custody [For Fathers]
- How To Win Custody Battle For Fathers
- What Are The Chances Of A Father Getting Full Custody?
- How To Get Full Custody Of A Child Without Going To Court
How Can A Father Get Full Custody of His Child?
If you’re wondering how can a father get full custody of his child, you probably think it’s an uphill battle.
It’s often assumed that mothers automatically get custody when parents file for divorce.
But that’s not true per child custody laws.
Getting custody for fathers is just as likely as getting custody for mothers.
Father Custody Rights You Need to Know
Father custody rights can vary depending on your marital situation, oddly enough!
If you are unmarried, you do not have automatic custody rights of your child.
Many people find this hard to believe.
If your child is born outside of marriage, only the mother has automatic legal and physical custody of the child.
This is true even if:
- you are living together
- in a committed relationship
- you signed the birth certificate
Many people are shocked by this, especially if the father signs the birth certificate.
However, signing the birth certificate only proves paternity.
That means that the father acknowledges that this child is theirs biologically.
It also shows that the father is now financially responsible for the child.
Meaning you will pay child support for that child without having custodial rights.
A father signing a birth or proving paternity does not grant him any:
- father’s visitation rights
- right to time-sharing
- father’s custodial rights
Basically the only way a father automatically has custody rights is if they’re married to the child’s mother.
When a couple is married and has a child, the man is assumed to be the father of the child.
A married man is then entitled to the same custody rights as the mother.
This is true even if the child isn’t biologically yours.
Let’s say your wife cheats on you and has a child while you’re married.
You will get custody rights to the child.
You will also be financially responsible to pay child support until that child it 18.
What Is Full Custody (In A Nutshell)
Full custody is sometimes referred to as sole custody.
Full custody for fathers means that the father is awarded permanent custody of their child by court order.
The term full custody includes both legal and physical custody.
This means that the father will have decision making power such as:
- where they’ll go to school
- what type of religion (if any) they will practice
- the type of healthcare they will receive
- the doctors they will visit
- after school activities
And you would also be the parent they primarily live with.
If a father has full custody, usually a visitation schedule will be made for the mother.
This schedule will outline what days the mother is able to have the child over.
When making this kind of schedule, it’s very important to realize that your child will benefit from having both of their parents in their lives.
Being able to come up with a fair schedule is very, very important.
A List of the Grounds For Full Custody of Children
It’s important to know that full custody is not granted often.
It doesn’t matter if it’s full custody for fathers or mothers.
This is because the father’s custodial rights are the same as the mother’s.
They also have started to realize that children are typically better off when they have a relationship with both of their parents.
When it comes to how can a father get full custody of his child, there are only two grounds for full custody of children:
- A mother is deemed unfit
- The child is 14 or older and chooses to live with one parent
What Is An Unfit Mother?
An unfit mother is one who has been deemed incapable of caring for their child.
Unfit mother examples are:
- you’ve abandoned your child
- emotionally or physically abusing your child
- failing to provide your child with necessities
- raising your child under/around immoral or obscene influences
Proving a mother as unfit is very difficult.
And just because you personally don’t approve of your ex’s parenting style does not mean that she is an unfit mother.
Just because your ex doesn’t give your child as many vegetables as you would or lets them have more screen time does not mean they are an unfit mother.
However, let’s say your ex is avoiding feeding your children or committing domestic violence.
Then the court will possibly find the mother unfit and grant the father full custody.
The second way for a father to get full custody is if the child elects to live with you full-time.
In some states, a child that is at least 14 years old can pick who they want to live with.
But only as long as the court has not determined that the father is unfit.
In order to do this, the child must sign an Election Affidavit while under oath.
If the mother does not contest this affidavit, then the courts will give the father full custody.
Related: How to Leave Your Husband
How To Get Full Custody [For Fathers]
Want to know how to get full custody?
Fathers get full custody when the courts think it’s in the child’s best interests.
Meaning full custody is not granted just because the father wants it.
The father gets full custody only if the courts deem it beneficial to the child.
What Visitation Right For Fathers You Should Know About
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
It’s difficult to get full custody for fathers.
(Check out the data from the US Census below.)
So, it’s important that we discuss the visitation rights for fathers.
This way, you better understand what happens when the father is not the custodial parent.
Fathers’ visitation rights are granted when the father is the non-custodial parent.
The father’s visitation rights allow him to have parenting time with his child.
When we say “in the child’s best interests,” it’s best for the child to have a healthy relationship with BOTH parents.
So, unless a father is unfit, the courts will not deny the father visitation rights.
When it comes to the visitation rights for father’s you’re looking at the right to:
- visit their child at the designated times
- schedule any allowed activities with the child
- be free of the other parent’s control during visitation
- spend the full amount of time with the child
- file a petition to keep the mother from moving out of state
- modify the divorce decree
In the ‘olden days,’ mothers were granted full custody no matter what.
(Even if she was an unfit mother.)
Nowadays, the father’s rights to visitation are fairer.
The father has as much right to spend time with the child as the mother does.
How To Get Full Custody After Joint Custody
Wondering how to get full custody after joint custody?
There are only seven reasons a judge will change custody:
- danger to the child
- contempt of court order
- a parent’s relocation
- the death of a parent
- the parent’s emotional and physical stability is compromised
- child abuse or neglect
If your ex is committing any of these scenarios, you may be able to get full custody after having joint custody.
To change joint custody to full custody, you will need to prove to the judge it’s in the child’s best interests.
Some of the items on the list are obvious, like the death of a parent.
But you will need evidence to prove that the mother is:
- a danger to the child
- emotionally unstable
- physically unstable
- abusing the child
- neglecting the child
Evidence for these items can be:
- video recordings
- audio recordings
- medical reports
- doctors’ reports
Once you have the evidence, have your family law attorney file a petition for child custody modification.
Your lawyer will give you the best chance to get full custody after joint custody.
How To Get Full Custody Not Married
But if you’re not married, you’re probably wondering how to get full custody when not married.
When unmarried, it’s much tougher for the father to get full custody of the child.
Heck, you probably are even wondering who has custody when the parents are not married.
You guessed it, it’s the mom.
The mother gets full legal and physical custody when the parents are unmarried.
If the child is born out of wedlock, the father has zero custody and visitation rights.
Without establishing paternity, a father has no:
- rights to visitation
- child custody rights
- ability to make decisions for the child
For a father to get full custody of his child, he has to:
- establish paternity
- file a petition for child custody for the father
- prove the mother unfit
Try proving the mother unfit only when trying to get full custody for fathers.
Establishing paternity and filing the petition is what a father needs to do just to gain:
- visitation rights
- child custody rights
- decision-making abilities
The next step to go from getting custody rights to getting full custody for fathers is proving a mother unfit.
The way that fathers can establish paternity are:
- fill out the birth certificate forms at the time of birth
- fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity
- petition the court to establish paternity
When you petition the courts to establish paternity, you’ll have to take a DNA test.
If you’re ONLY trying to get full custody for fathers, hold up.
Before you establish paternity through the courts, ask your family lawyer if there is enough evidence to prove the mother unfit.
But if your goal is to have equal custodial rights as a father, then ask your family lawyer to file the petition to establish paternity for you.
Related: Questions to Ask A Divorce Lawyer
How To Win Custody Battle For Fathers
Are you going through a custody battle?
Maybe you’re secretly wondering how a mother can lose a custody battle.
If you’re looking into how to win custody battles for fathers, you should be:
- working with your ex to co-parent well
- show up every single time it’s your turn with your child
- request in-home custody evaluations to prove you’re a good parent
- be a competent, involved, and loving parent
- document everything if you feel the child is unsafe with the mother
Figuring out how to win a custody battle is just as much about what NOT to do too.
- don’t talk negatively about your ex (especially to your kids)
- do not arrive late to spend time with your kids
- do not reschedule your time with the children
- do not misuse drugs or alcohol
- do not refuse to follow the court orders
- do not share details about the case with your kids
If you are trying to figure out how to win a custody battle, you will increase your odds by following these lists.
But just know that the judge looks at the WHOLE picture.
They want to make sure that whatever custody arrangement is made, that it is in the best interest of the child.
How To Handle The Mother Not Letting Father See Child
What should a father do if the mother is not letting a father see the child?
This means that the mother is withholding visitation rights from the father.
If there is court-ordered visitation, the mother is violating the father’s visitation rights.
The first thing that the father should do if the mother won’t let him see the child is call the police.
Note that the police will not enforce visitation.
This is because visitation is a domestic dispute.
The purpose of calling the police is to get proof of the court-ordered visitation violations.
You will have to provide them with your child custody agreement.
This gives them proof that you have visitation rights.
The police will provide you a report that proves that there was visitation interference.
After you have evidence of visitation interference, you’ll want to hire a family law attorney.
They will walk you through filing a petition for visitation enforcement.
For the first offense, the courts will most likely order the mother to reschedule your missed visitation.
If the mother is not letting the father see the child repeatedly, the judge can change the custody agreement.
So, what are the action steps when the mother is not letting the father see the child?
- get evidence of the violation of visitation
- file a motion asking the courts to enforce visitation
- serve the mother the petition
- show up to your hearing
- present the evidence of contempt
Related: Grandparents Rights In Georgia
[Unfair?] How Can A Mother Lose Custody To The Father?
Let’s talk about how can a mother lose custody to the father.
- abusing the child
- violating court orders (not allowing the father to see the child)
- neglecting the child
- addiction to alcohol and drugs
- unable to physically or emotionally care for the child
The judges are going to do what’s in the child’s best interests.
If the mother is abusing or neglecting the child, she may never see the child again.
Yes, the mother will lose custody to the father.
But she also could lose any visitation rights along with that.
If the mother is abusing the child, almost every judge will take the mother’s rights away from her.
Some examples of a mother abusing the child are:
- verbal abuse of the child or father
- the mother not letting the father see the child
- physical abuse of the child or father
- withholding love and support from the child
The mother can lose custody to the father for the other three reasons.
But it’s very unlikely that she will lose visitation rights.
The mother can also try to regain custody later if she lost custody to the father for:
- addiction to alcohol and drugs
- unable to physically or emotionally care for the child
She can file a child custody modification if she can prove she is no longer:
- addicted to drugs or alcohol
- unable to provide physical or emotional care
Just be aware that if the mother loses custody to the father, she may be able to regain it later.
If the mother is putting the child’s life in danger, file for emergency custody orders.
Related: Dissolution vs Divorce
How To Get Custody Of A Child From An Unfit Mother
If you’re trying to figure out how to get custody of a child from an unfit mother, you need to prove the mother unfit.
To prove a mother unfit, do the following:
- make sure the mother is actually an unfit mother
- make sure the mother is unfit per the laws in your state
- gather evidence proving that she is unfit
- hire a child custody lawyer
- complete and file the paperwork for a child custody modification
- serve the unfit mother with the modification papers
- present your evidence in court
- receive (and follow) the new court orders
Related: Divorce as a Stay at Home Mom
What Are The Chances Of A Father Getting Full Custody?
Now you know how to prove a mother unfit so a father can get full custody.
But, in general, what are the chances of a father getting full custody?
According to the US Census, fathers getting full custody is on the rise.
In 1994, only 16% of fathers were custodial parents.
But in 2018, 20% of fathers became the custodial parent.
As you can imagine, 80% of mothers were the custodial parents of the children.
But the numbers are skewed.
That’s because, according to this data, of that 80% of mothers with custodial rights:
- 40.4% were never married
- 30.1% were divorced
- 16.3% were still married
- 11.9% were separated
- 1.3% were widowed
This means that out of every 100 custody cases, 80 women were the custodial parents.
Of those 80 women:
- 32 women were never married
- 24 women were divorced
And of those 100 custody cases, 20 fathers ended up being the custodial parents.
The data of fathers with custody rights ended up being roughly the same as the mothers.
- 39.1% were divorced
- 29.3% were never married
- 18.5% were still married
- 11.4% were separated
- 1.8% were widowed
This means that out of every 100 custody cases, 20 fathers were the custodial parents.
Of those 20 fathers.
- 7.8 fathers were divorced
- 5.8 fathers were never married
This means that for divorce cases, 32.5% of the fathers were the custodial parent.
And for every set of parents who were never married, only 18.1% of the fathers became the custodial parent.
Obviously, child custody for fathers doesn’t quite hit 50/50 on average.
But it’s pretty good that 1/3 of divorce child custody cases award the father as the custodial parent.
Related: Filing for Divorce
Filing For Full Custody [This Is Your Best Chance]
You want the best chance of winning when you’re filing for full custody.
Just to point out from the beginning, getting full custody is very difficult.
That is unless the mother is proving to be an unfit parent.
This basically means that she is posing a danger to the child.
If you’re filing for full custody, remember the mother will most likely still have visitation rights.
The courts have to take the child’s best interests into consideration when filing for full custody.
It makes sense to file for full custody when:
- it’s in the child’s best interests
- joint custody is not a good idea due to terrible co-parenting
But if filing for full custody is not in the child’s best interests, the father will not get full custody.
So, how can a father get full custody of his child? Some reasons he should be filing for full custody are:
- the mother is unable to raise the child
- the mother has neglected, abused, or abandoned the child
- you’re more available to take care of the child than the mother due to a more flexible work schedule
- you have a restraining order on the mother
- the mother poses a threat to the child
- the child has special needs that only you can meet
- you were the primary caregiver
- you have more financial stability than the mother
- the mother has a history of domestic violence
Related: Uncontested Divorce
How To Improve The Chances Of Father Getting 50/50 Custody
You can improve the chances of a father getting 50/50 custody by showing a willingness to work together.
The courts believe it’s in the child’s best interests to have both parents in the child’s life.
And they really want to see the mother and father co-parenting well together.
This means that the chances of a father getting 50/50 custody are high.
The only things that reduce the chances of a father getting 50/50 custody are:
- a history of violence
- special needs children
- long distances between parents
- the father is unfit
As a father trying to get 50/50 custody, you should be:
- willing to co-parent
- showing up for your child
- paying the child support (if any)
- provide safe housing for the child
- don’t abuse drugs or alcohol
- don’t alienate the mother
- do not violate the custody orders
If you just play along, be a good dad, and be a good co-parent, you should be getting 50/50 custody.
Related: Cost of Divorce
How To Get Full Custody Of A Child Without Going To Court
Going through a custody battle in court can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
The easiest way to figure out how to get full custody of a child without going to court is to hire a custody lawyer.
They will have the experience to help you:
- create a parenting plan both parents agree on, which means you won’t have to go have the judge make the final decision
- create a child custody agreement, which will outline each parent’s role in the child’s custody
- set up mediation, which will help you and your ex reduce costs dramatically
If you’d like to discuss how a father can get full custody of his child, fill out the form below.
Once you fill out the form, we will reach out to set up a FREE consultation.
Our child custody lawyers are experienced in fighting for father’s custodial rights.
We know how to get full custody for fathers.
We are crazy good at fighting for a father’s custody rights in scenarios like:
- the mother is not letting you see the child
- you’re trying to get the custody of a child from an unfit mother
- you’re trying to improve your chances of getting full custody
- you simply want the best chances of getting 50/50 custody
No matter what situation you’re up against, we got you.