Custody rights for fathers generally refers to the biological father’s ability to obtain legal or physical custody of their child.  A discussion of custody rights usually becomes necessary in situations involving divorce, legal separation, or where the other parent cannot assume custody responsibilities. 

Generally speaking, courts prefer to grant custody to the children of the biological parents, if at all possible.  Of course, the judge must still determine whether a particular custody arrangement is suitable for the child.  They would need to conduct an evaluation of the father to determine if they are fit for caring for the child.  The court would consider various aspects such as the father’s history with the child, their financial status, and their mental and emotional state. 

Are There Different Types of Child Custody?

Child custody is arranged primarily according to the child’s best interest standard.  This can involve a mix of different types of child custody.  For instance, there is a distinction between legal and physical custody.  Legal custody involves the parent being able to make important legal decisions for the child (such as where they go to school, signing documents, etc.)  Physical custody refers to which parent the child is actually staying with for most of the time.

In more traditional custody settings, the mother was granted physical and legal custody of the child.  However, more recently, courts are favoring alternative child-rearing arrangements, such as those involving split or joint custody, where the parents share a roughly equal amount of custody time.  This is only available where possible, and if there are no records of serious violence or conflict in the home. 

What if a Child Custody Order Needs to be Changed?

Custody rights for fathers sometimes need to be changed even after the custody order has been set.  This can happen if there is a “major change in circumstances” of either parent.  For example, if the father has obtained a new employment arrangement, they may need to modify a child custody order to reflect their new schedule.  Another common example is when a parent relocates and the order must be modified accordingly. 

All changes or modifications to an existing child custody order must be sent to a judge for approval.  This helps to ensure that the custody rights for fathers, mothers, or for the child are not violated in any way. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Child Custody Rights for Fathers?

A father's custody rights are an important aspect of any child custody/visitation arrangement.  You may wish to hire a qualified child custody lawyer in your area if you need assistance with any child custody matters.  Your family attorney can help you understand what your rights and responsibilities are, and can help represent you during the progression of the trial.  You may consider reading this informative article How much a child custody lawyer cost