The Truth - the Winning Argument for Your Case

23 Feb. 2017

Sole or Primary Child Custody - What are a Father's Chances of Winning It?

Posted By The Buncher Law Corporation

When most entertainment media cover the topic of divorce or family law disputes, there seems to almost always be a father figure cast in a negative light. How many movies have you watched that included an abusive dad that couldn’t control his temper? Or, how many television shows have you seen that presented the mother as a caring, protective figure and the dad too strict and authoritarian? While we all understand that these are only character tropes, the effects of this near-constant representation of fathers in the media has trickled into our country’s legal system, making child custody and visitation cases an uphill battle for men, in many cases.

Historically, family law judges have favored women when it comes to awarding child custody. This is due to the prevailing assumption that women are nurturing by nature and men are not. The saying goes, “A mother always knows,” not a father. Even though some states have passed legislation that specifically states family law courts cannot intentionally side with mothers in child custody disputes, these updated changes seem to have done little to the subconscious decision making process of some judges. By some rough estimates, about 60% of cases wherein sole or primary custody is awarded to one parent (as opposed to joint custody to be shared by both) mother is awarded custody, despite the father appearing to be just as eligible, if not more so, to carry that responsibility.

If the odds seem unfairly stacked against fathers due to society’s predispositions and centuries of common practice, how can a dad fight for his right to sole or primary child custody, and win?

What Fathers Can Do to Win Child Custody

Put aside possible biases against fathers in divorce and you will find that all family law courts, no matter what state you are in, are supposed to rule in favor of “the child’s best interests.” A child’s best interests boil down to which parent will most likely be able to provide a stable home and loving lifestyle for the child, which in turn will encourage positive development. A parent’s sex or gender is not included in the language of these laws. This is where a father will need to focus his efforts in the dispute: proving he can provide what is best for his child or children.

To establish that you, the father of your child, deserve sole or primary child custody, you should start by thinking of three things:

  1. How your child sees you: The biggest help to your argument for sole or primary child custody is your child himself or herself. Children will tend to prefer the parent that has given them the most attention, even if this is not stated openly. If you were the one who picks up your kids from school, takes them to the doctor, and reads them bedtime stories, your child is going to miss that routine and sense of normalcy should it disappear after your divorce. In order to avoid damaging that comfort zone, a court will likely reward sole or primary custody to you.
  2. Your relationship with your wife: Along the same vein of keeping the status quo of your child’s day-to-day life undisturbed, family law courts prefer, if possible, that a child still see both parents frequently. If you have maintained a civil relationship with your wife despite the divorce process unfolding, it looks good. In fact, if you have been careful to not overstep your boundaries or onto your wife’s toes, you in particular look good in the eyes of the court, as it wants a child to grow up under the care of someone who is level headed.
  3. Future relationships and situations: The court will look beyond the here and the now when rewarding child custody. If you plan on living with some friends while looking for a place of your own, the personalities of those new people and your overall living situation must be considered as well. Are you interested in pursuing new partners after the divorce? The court may not appreciate that venture as much as you do. In essence, any behavior that could be seen as that of a “bachelor” is not the same as that of a father & it can hurt your odds of getting sole or primary child custody.

Considerations Dealing with More Concrete Information

With the three “abstract” considerations considered, it is time to actually look at concrete evidence and numbers to improve your chances of getting full custody as a father. What do you have at your disposal and that is on paper that can help your argument? Sometimes a properly sorted portfolio is the difference between raising your kids every day and wondering when you will see them next.

Information and data you can use to sway the court’s decision in your favor include:

  • Your regular income – you can afford to raise a child.
  • Your regular (and flexible) work schedule – you have the time to raise a child.
  • Your clean criminal record – you have the right temperament to raise a child.
  • Your medical history – you have the health needed to raise a child.

If all of these look good on your end but not so much on your wife’s end, get copies of her information, too. A side-by-side comparison of objective information can be powerful in proving you are prepared to continue being a father, and that your soon-to-be ex-wife needs to spend more time focusing on herself.

Hold Onto Your Family Home If You Can

Finally, you must realize the importance of staying in your family home as the divorce unfolds. You should never automatically concede and move out unless staying poses a risk to your health, such as in incidents of domestic violence. If you pack up and leave the moment a divorce is announced, leaving your kids to stay with your wife in your home, you have just created the new normal for your children, which is living with their mother and not their father. A judge will, once again, not want to upset a child any further and will lean towards awarding child custody to whomever stayed in the family home, out of simplicity’s sake. Should you be given a temporary court order to vacate your marital home, you should start thinking immediately as to how you can reverse it.

Irvine Divorce Lawyers Standing Up for Fathers’ Rights

Our team of family law attorneys in Irvine believe that the law should not be tilted out of anyone’s favor. When a father comes to our law firm for help with a child custody case, he finds that our legal professionals provide a welcoming, nonjudgmental environment in which to construct a case that will protect his rights and uphold both his own and his child’s best interests. Call The Buncher Law Corporation at 949.536.7500 to set up a case evaluation and speak with attorneys that genuinely care about our clients and tenaciously fight courtroom prejudice against fathers going through a divorce.
Blog Home

Helpful Family Law Resources

Family law can be complex, but there are plenty of resources available to assist you. Browse through the various resources our team provides to help simplify your legal process in every way possible.

We Have the Answers You Need