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How does a father get custody of his child?

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The father must consult with an attorney who specializes in custody issues who can review the situation and explain the father's rights and options.

If the mother presently has custody you need to provide evidence to the court that there has been a significant change in the circumstances that led to the first parent being awarded custody or that the custodial parent is unfit. Unfit as a legal term is a determination that must be made by the state court. Every parent at odds with the other parent thinks the other is "unfit" so it's not simply a matter of opinion.

The factors used to determine that a parent is unfit are generally governed by state laws with child endangerment being the determining factor. The following include some of the reasons a parent may be declared unfit:

  • physical, emotional and sexual abuse
  • excessive discipline
  • failure to protect the child from abuse by others
  • failure to report abuse of the child
  • neglect- failure to provide food, clothing, proper hygiene, necessary medical treatment, schooling
  • failure to provide proper medical care
  • failure to provide day to day parental care
  • serious illness or disability
  • mental illness
  • substance abuse or addiction
  • alcoholism
  • criminal activity and/or associations
  • incarceration
  • conduct or conditions that are seriously detrimental to the child
  • abandonment
  • child endangerment
  • leaving the child unattended or in the care and supervision of a child
  • a failure to provide adequate supervision
  • unsafe living conditions
  • a medical condition that makes it impossible for the parent to adequately care for the child

If the parties are presently in the process of divorce an experienced attorney is essential because the case will need to be carefully prepared and experience in a particular court is extremely valuable. The judge must have convincing evidence that father having custody is in the best interest of the children. The court will consider the father's role in child rearing prior to the divorce action. Who provided the most day-to-day care? Who accompanied the children to doctor's and dentist's visits? Who went to teacher conferences, school plays and sports events? Who assisted the children to dress for school and prepare their homework? Who will care for the children while the father is at work? If the father has legitimate concerns that the mother is incapable of caring for the children properly he needs evidence that will convince the court. However, the motive should be honest concern for the children and not avoiding child support or a desire to hurt or control the children's mother. Your lawyer will review your situation and explain your options.

Many men take an active role in raising their children. If the father was the primary caregiver then he should definitely be considered for custody since caregiving should be one of the the main qualifications for awarding custody along with health, safety and stability.
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