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Men’s Child Custody Rights: What Are They?

Gene Kirzhner May 14, 2017

45 Years ago, child custody was cut-and-dry. Women usually ended up with full custody of the child, regardless of the situation. Now, things are different. Men have more rights than they ever had in custody cases. If you’re involved in a custody dispute, you should know the basic of men’s child custody rights.

What Is Child Custody?

Child custody doesn’t only refer to one aspect of childcare. The term describes legal custody, physical custody, and visitation. A child custody case gives a father a chance to earn the right to have visits with his child and to make decisions about the child’s welfare. A custody decision could determine whether he has any say in whether or not another person adopts his child.

There’s a lot more to custody than just who the child lives with, which is physical custody. A parent with legal custody is in charge of making decisions about the child, like where they go to school if they practice a religion, and what sort of medical care they need.

In the case of a divorce or a split between two unmarried parents, they need to make decisions regarding all aspects of custody. While a court doesn’t guarantee these rights to anyone, it is possible for a father to fight for them. It’s not an easy battle, but a father can seek any rights he wants. But there are a few things that you should know about men’s child custody rights first.

Basics of Men’s Child Custody Rights

A divorce involving a biological child is not simple to handle. There is no preset formula to determine who gets custody. However, there are a few general rules.

1. Visitation

If a father has a clean record and no history of abuse, he is very likely to receive visitation right for his child. When there is a reason to believe that the father may be dangerous to the child, visitation may not be an option- at least not without supervision.

2.Physical Custody

In divorce cases, the court awards physical custody to one parent. This is because having one home provides stability to the child; the parents don’t shuffle them back and forth and don’t remove them from school.

In court, a judge usually awards the mother full physical custody. That said, it’s possible for the father to seek full physical custody. He can also seek joint custody. In joint custody situations, a child lives with each parent for the same amount of time. But, for the same reasons that the courts favor full physical custody, it’s not often an option. A final option is split custody. Even less likely than joint custody, split custody involves one child living with one parent and another child living with another.

3. Legal Custody

In most divorces, legal custody goes to both parents. When there is an important decision to make, both parents need to agree. If not, they need to go to court to settle the dispute. There are some situations in which a mother or father gets more say in these decisions than their ex-partner, but this isn’t the typical outcome.

Unmarried Fathers

Unmarried fathers have fewer men’s custody rights than married ones, but they do still have rights. Before going to court, a mother has an unspoken full custody of the child. She has the power to make decisions regarding the child, and her opinion regarding custody issues is superior.

But that can change after you go to court. A court can take away those natural rights if you can demonstrate that the mother’s not fit to handle the job. With evidence of that, you can convince a judge to give you custody. Proving that isn’t always easy, so there is another option. You can still seek partial custody or other rights, like visitation or joint legal custody. Doing so gives you a chance to see your child and to make important decisions for them.

Before you take any legal action, you need to make sure your name is on the birth certificate of your child. A father needs the court to recognize him as a father before he fights for his men’s child custody rights. If your name wasn’t on the birth certificate at the time of the child’s birth, there are ways to fix that.

Fighting for Child Custody

The fight for child custody is a difficult one. Many of the cases strongly depend on the state in which the case goes to court and the judge. There are specific details about the case that matter more than others. Moral character is taken into consideration, as is financial status and a child’s preference. Courts also consider who is the child’s primary caregiver. The parent who bathes feeds and spends time with the child the most may have a better chance at a good outcome in a custody dispute.

Most importantly, if you’re seeking custody, you need to find a lawyer. With their help, you may be able to get the rights you deserve.